THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Congress in Kerala today demanded a nationwide ban on endosulfan, in view of the serious health problems caused to the residents in Kasargode district, due to aerial spraying of the pesticide in state-owned plantations 20 years back.
The Agriculture Ministry's stand on the issue came in for sharp criticism at the executive meeting of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) held here today. Briefing reporters on the state unit's stand, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala told reporters the meeting resolved to urge the Centre to impose a country-wide ban on the pesticide.
It also wanted India to mobilise the opinion of the international community against the pesticide at the next Stockholm Convention on non-organic pesticides. Meanwhile, state leaders of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) today said they had obtained an assurance from Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar that agriculture scientist C D Mayee would be removed from the panel set up to study the endosulfan issue.
After meeting Pawar in New Delhi, NCP state president A C Shanmughadas told reporters that the Minister had promised formation of a new panel, headed by a health expert. Appointment of Mayee had sparked strong criticism in Kerala, with politicians cutting across party lines alleging that an earlier panel on which he was a member had given clean chit to endosulfan.
Pro-Congress lawyers' forum, Indian Lawyers Congress had last week urged the Centre to remove Mayee from the panel. Aerial spraying of endosulfan in cashew estates of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala had allegedly caused serious health problems to scores of people in parts of Kasargode district.
Taking a serious view of their plight, the LDF Government in Kerala has announced a relief package for the victims. All political parties and several NGOs and charity organisations like Amritha Mutt have come out openly against endosulfan.