Describing that the health problems caused to people in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts from the use of endosulfan are “next only to the Bhopal gas tragedy”, the State government on Wednesday submitted to the Karnataka High Court that it was time to make the polluter to pay compensation in such cases.

Submission in this regard was made before a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition, initiated suo motu by the court, on the issue of sufferings of the people affected by the use of endosulfan in two districts. The PIL petition was initiated following a letter written by K.L. Manjunath, a judge of the High Court.

A Bench of the Lok Adalat has observed that the use of banned pesticides has led to cervical and breast cancer among female agriculture labourers in six districts which fall under the Gulbarga revenue division.

The Bench comprising Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the High Court and A N Yellappa Reddy, a member of the Lok Adalat, in its sitting in Bangalore on Saturday, directed the departments of health and agriculture to conduct a survey among labourers and suggest remedial measures.

Primary question by apex court about its harmful effects remains unanswered

Formal orders, spanning over a year, passed by the Supreme Court in the public interest petition triggered by the “highly disturbing” photographs of people who may have been affected by the pesticide endosulfan in Kerala show the case has come full circle. The case, Democratic Youth Federation of India vs. Union of India , was first heard on May 2, 2011, by a three-judge bench led by the then Chief Justice of India Justice S.H. Kapadia. Eleven days later, on May 13, 2011, the Bench ordered an “immediate ban” on the pesticide.

POP review panel recommendation before next CoP

The eighth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) Review Committee to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants which concluded in Geneva on Friday approved the assessment of 100 chemical alternatives to endosulfan on Thursday. In a significant departure from past practice, the committee also recommended non-chemical alternatives (to endosulfan).

Says inquiry team did not meet old plantation workers

The Endosulfan Viruddha Samara Samithi has alleged that the report of the team constituted by the State government to study the health problems caused by the use of endosulfan in certain rural villages of Kozhikode district is an attempt to protect the pesticide companies and the Agriculture Department.

At a press conference here on Wednesday, the Samithi said the evidence collection and studies conducted by the team in the endosulfan-affected villages were a farce.

A meeting of the Endosulfan Relief and Remediation Cell here on Tuesday decided to hold a panchayat-level sitting by health and panchayat officials by November 15 before publishing the final list of victims of the pesticide in the district. The final list is expected to clear the confusion over who all deserve to be on the list.

The decision was taken following widespread criticism raised by panchayat officials that a newly classified list was published without informing officials of the affected panchayats, officials said.

Court asks Centre to spell out its stand

The Supreme Court has appointed an expert committee to go into all aspects of the ban on endosulfan and the disposal of the existing quantity of the pesticide. The court has asked the Centre to spell out its stand on the manufacture and use of endosulfan in the country.

A Bench comprising Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Madan B. Lokur, hearing a writ petition filed by the Democratic Youth Federation of India on Tuesday, said the committee to be headed by the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) would have the Member-Secretary of the Centre Pollution Control Board, two scientists, and the Joint Secretary of Plant Protection from the Agriculture Ministry on it.

Fresh evidence has emerged about prevalence of endosulfan residues in the groundwater of Kasaragod district and recent use of the pesticide in the area.

A study by P.S. Akhil and C.H. Sujatha of the Department of Chemical Oceanography of Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) reported that organochlorine insecticides, particularly high concentrations of endosulfan and BHC (hexachlorobenzene), were persisting in the environment. This was despite restrictions on use of BHC, and ban imposed by the High Court and the government on use of endosulfan. The pesticide residues which remained in the soil from earlier application become the source of pollution of water bodies through land runoff, leaching and ultimately contaminate drinking water sources.

The Plantation Corporation of Kerala, the public sector company promoting cash crops, has decided to seek State Government’s permission to move court against the manufactures of Endosulfan, which includes public sector firms like Hindustan Insecticides Limited (HIL).

Endosulfan is an off-patent pesticide recently banned in the country for its toxic effects on humans. According to the corporation chairman Varghese George, the manufacturers were actually responsible for the tragedy that had struck several villages in Kasaragod. Mr George was referring to large-scale congenital deformities reported in Kasaragod district.

Demand to consider plea to write off loans

Hundreds of endosulfan victims in the district are awaiting news from the State government which has, in principal, agreed to implement the relief and rehabilitation packages suggested by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Hopes were raised after the visit of the three-member team of Ministers who held discussions with various agencies and organisations that have been fighting for the cause of the victims for years.

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