Ban this Poison

published on April 25, 2011

Kerala fasts against killer pesticide
PNS | Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala fasted and agitated on Monday demanding total ban on pesticide
Endosulfan which had killed about 1,000 human beings and caused
mysterious diseases to 10,000 in northernmost Kasaragod district alone.
All political parties (except those in the Congress-led UDF), cultural
organizations, youth outfits and rights groups joined the agitation led
by 87-year-old Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan.

The State-wide fast and agitation were part of the observance of Monday
as Anti-Endosulfan Day to coincide with the start of the five-day
Geneva session of the Stockholm Convention of the Persistent Organic
Pollutants Review Committee, which was to be crucial as far as the
continuance of the use of the pesticide was concerned. Participants at
the protest programmes at various centres took pledge to continue the
stir against Endosulfan.

Achuthanandan led the fast at the Martyrs’ Memorial in
Thiruvananthapuram, where leaders of various political parties,
cultural personalities, spiritual leaders, Ministers and others
converged. Thousands joined the fast in the capital while similar
programmes were organized at all district headquarters under the
leadership of Ministers.

In Kasaragod district, the place hit by the biggest
Endosulfan-generated human tragedy, thousands joined the protest
programmes. At 1.30 pm, the time of the start of the session in Geneva,
“Jyotis of protests” were lighted in Kasaragod and the town stood still
for 15 minutes as it observed a “stir of stillness”.

The agitation was also meant to protest against the refusal of the UPA
Government to ban the killer pesticide “on the basis of the happenings
in Kasaragod alone”. Towards Monday evening, reports from Geneva said
that India would oppose proposal for ban on the pesticide at on Tuesday.

“We feel sad about the Centre’s position that Endosulfan would not be
banned until all the States demand it,” Achuthanandan said while
inaugurating the agitation. “Therefore, we will now be undertaking a
mission to convince all the Indian states about the perils the
pesticide can bring showing them the horrifying images from Kasaragod,”
he said.

The Chief Minister lamented that the Prime Minister was refusing to
correct past mistakes and that Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar
was insensitive to death of human beings. On Friday, the Prime Minister
had indicated to an all-party delegation from Kerala that a ban on the
pesticide was impossible in the present situation,

“Endosulfan does not know LDF or UDF. It brings death,” said Baselios
Mar Cleemis, Major Archbishop of the Malankara Catholic Church, who
joined the stir. “There is no need (for the Congress) to be unhappy
about the criticisms against the Prime Minister and to stay away from
this stir. In democracy, we have the right to criticize him when he is
unable to see the people’s wish,” said poet Sugathakumari.

“The Centre and political parties should not remain insensitive to
this,” said senior BJP leader O Rajagopal. State BJP president V
Muraleedharan joined the stir at Kozhikode. Achuthanandan broke the
fast marking the end of the day-long stir by taking the lemon juice
offered by Sugathakumari at 5.00 pm.

The Congress which had chosen to hold the agitation of the UDF against
Endosulfan separately seemed isolated in the whole issue. MSF, the
students’ outfit of second biggest UDF constituent Muslim League,
joined the agitation led by the Chief Minister. The Congress had
decided to stage separate stir protesting against Achuthanandan’s
criticisms against Manmohan Singh.

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