Arch Rivals join together for a common cause – Ban Endosulfan

published on April 24, 2011

Endosulfan: Kerala-wide agitation today
VR Jayaraj | Kochi

All political parties including the BJP – but except those in the Congress-led UDF coalition – in Kerala, youth outfits, cultural organizations, rights groups and environmental activists will hold agitations across the State on Monday demanding nation-wide ban on killer pesticide Endosulfan, which has wreaked havoc in North Kerala and South Karnataka, and protesting against pro-pesticide stand of the UPA Government.

The agitation is being held in the context of the five-day Geneva session of the Stockholm Convention of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee which starts on Monday. Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan will inaugurate the State-wide protest programmes by leading a 10.00 am-to-5.00 pm Satyagraha at the Martyr’s Memorial in Thiruvananthapuram.

The Congress, trapped between the pro-Endosulfan stand of the Centre and its own national leadership and the demand for ban in Kerala and from several senior leaders of the State unit, has said it would organize separate agitation but top functionaries admitted that there was confusion as to how to deal with the situation.

At the same time, reports from Delhi quoted P Chengal Reddy, a pr-Endosulfan lobbyist and general secretary of the Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Associations, as saying that Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had already promised not to support the proposal for ban on the pesticide at the Geneva session of the Stockholm Convention.

“I talked to Mr Pawar personally two-three days ago. He told me that he supported our stand on Endosulfan… As far as Pawar is concerned, there is no problem,” a TV report quoted Reddy as saying. Endosulfan could be banned on the basis of things in the villages of “damned Kasaragod” and “damned stand of the CPI(M) in Kerala”, he said.

Kerala’s northernmost Kasaragod district, where Endosulfan has killed about 1,000 persons and has caused mysterious diseases to about 10,000, will see the fiercest protests on Monday as the member countries of the Stockholm Convention converge to discuss a ban on the pesticide at Geneva. From 1.30 pm Monday, the time set for the start of the meeting in Geneva, entire Kasaragod would turn “still” for 15 minutes.

Ministers in the State Cabinet will lead the protest programmes in the different district headquarters in which cultural leaders, anti-Endosulfan activists, cultural activists, etc would participate. DYFI, the CPI(M)’s youth outfit, will light anti-Endosulfan flames at all district headquarters at 1.30 pm.

The Chief Minister, who had the other day unleashed a scathing attack against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for sharing Pawar’s stand on Endosulfan, would end his Satyagraha by taking the lemon juice offered by Shahina, an Endosulfan victim from Bovikanam, Kasaragod. The Anti-Endosulfan Committee will host protest programmes in Kasaragod district, especially in the areas where the pesticide has wreaked havoc.

Senior BJP leader O Rajagopal will participate in the Satyagraha at Thiruvananthapuram while State party president V Muraleedharan will join the protest at Kozhikode. “The silence adopted by the Union Ministers from Kerala is proof of the hypocrisy of the Congress on the Endosulfan issue,” Muraleedharan said.

On Sunday, Opposition leader and top Congress functionary Oommen Chandy tried to provide an explanation to newsmen on why the UDF was not participating in the protests. He charged Achuthanandan with efforts to politicize the Endosulfan issue “even when the Prime Minister has made it clear that he is unprejudiced”.

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