NEW DELHI: The Centre has requested the Supreme Court to permit exhausting of available stock of banned pesticide endosulfanby allowing its agricultural use in all states except Kerala and Karnataka on the ground that incineration cost of the stored pesticide could cost the exchequer over Rs 210 crore.
“The cost of disposal of live stock of endosulfan by incineration shall be more than Rs 210.82 crore, whereas phasing out would not only result in saving this huge amount on disposal but would also save the product (stock) worth Rs 31.36 lakh, which would contribute to increased crop production,” the agriculture ministry told the court.
It quoted the report of the Combined Expert Committee on Endosulfan, constituted on the SC’s direction, to say that 18 other states, other than Kerala and Karnataka, favoured use of endosulfan because it was a cheap broad spectrum pesticide very popular among farmers. The committee had also said the pesticide was “safe to pollinators without any ill-effects on human beings, animals and environment”.
The ministry said conference of the parties to the Stockholm Convention last year had permitted a phase-out period of five years for the pesticide. “Thus, use of endosulfan, which has not expired, may be allowed in India as per the provisions of Stockholm Convention so as to exhaust the existing stock of raw materials and finished products,” it said.
In its recommendations, the Union government sought resumption of manufacture of endosulfan from the existing stock of raw material, but said there should be a ban on its imports.
The apex court had on May 13, 2011, ordered a nationwide ban on manufacture, sale and use of endosulfan citing its toxic effects on humans and environment. It applied the precautionary principle to order the ban and said right to life was above all other interests and considerations and it could not “take on its head” a single child getting affected by the pesticide during the period when the Centre-appointed expert panel conducted tests to determine endosulfan’s toxicity.
The order had come on a PIL filed by Democratic Youth Federation of India, which cited the researches to allege that “endosulfan exposure in male children may delay sexual maturity and interfere with sex hormone synthesis”. It had also alleged that those exposed to the pesticide reported “higher prevalence of neuro-behavioural disorder”.
But the court later permitted export of endosulfan stocked with manufacturers, however refused to lift the ban on manufacture, sale and use.