SC seeks details on safe export of endosulfan

Interim ban on the pesticide to continue

By Savvy Soumya Misra
Published: Friday 05 August 2011

The Supreme Court on August 5 gave a three week extension to the Joint Committee to submit its interim report on the possibility of exports or disposal off the existing stocks of endosulfan.

The interim ban imposed on May 13 on the manufacture, use, sale and export of endosulfan will, however, continue. The joint committee comprising Director General Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Agriculture Commissioner was formed the same day to prepare a report on the harmful effects of endosulfan.

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The three judge bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia, justice Swatantar Kumar and justice K S P Radhakrishnan had earlier during the July 15 hearing asked the joint committee to present an an interim report on the exports of the existing stock and how it can be done safely. The directions were given keeping in mind the fact that the endosulfan manufacturers pleaded for exports, that had already been committed, to be allowed.

However, the report submitted by the joint committee, on August 5, was very sketchy and it said the exports of the stocks available with the manufacturers be allowed. According to the information provided by the industry, India at present has a stock of 194,914 kg of technical grade and 818,518.50 liters of formulation available at present. 

The bench has asked the Joint Committee to revert to the court with the following details: a) What is the quantity of endosulfan in the country which is ready for exports in terms of pending orders (b) The Joint Committee must examine the conditions on which exports of endosulfan can be made to other countries keeping in mind the international conventions (c) The Joint Committee will also have to examine what steps can be taken for disposal of the pesticide, that will not be exported, in compliance with environmental norms.

The Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India, through their counsels Harish Salve and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, requested the bench to allow exports of even those stocks for which orders had not been received.

The joint committee has in its report stated that there has been serious health impacts due to the unscientific use of endosulfan. However since no other states have reported any adverse impact due to the pesticide it has been recommended that the use and sale of endosulfan in Kerala and Karnataka be put on hold. They also note that there are no studies conducted by the states to show the impact of endosulfan.

There is also a contradiction in the joint committee report. On one hand it says that since only two states have problems and others found it safe, it was better and safer than its alternatives on the other hand while pushing for exports they say how stocking the pesticide and not disposing it off safely can pose environmental hazard.

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