Ramesh slams Achuthanandan over Endosulfan protest

Jairam Ramesh
New Delhi, May 2: Rejecting suggestions that Government was against a ban on Endosulfan, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today (May 2) said the country could phase out the pesticide before the 11-year timeframe agreed at Stockholm Convention if a cost-effective alternative is found.

A visibly agitated Ramesh also lashed out at Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, who is leading an anti- Endosulfan campaign, saying "Achuthanandan and company" has taken a "holier than thou" attitude on the issue and questioned the state government's inaction against the "perpetrators" of the "genocide" of its own people in Kasargod district.

Kerala's Kasargod district has reported one of the most severe incidents of Endosulfan poisoning.

Referring to the Stockholm convention that concluded last week, Ramesh said that for the first time India has said that it will ban Endosulfan which showed the sensitivity of the UPA government to the issue.

He claimed the NGOs briefed "wrongly" in Geneva that India is against the ban and is taking a "leadership position" against the ban.

"We have actually agreed (at the Stockholm Convention) that in 11 years it should be phased out. We have had to protect our interests. We got 11 year timeframe to phaseout Endosulfan. We got exemptions for specific crops and specific pests," he told reporters here.

"11 years is an outside limit. If we can develop a cost effective alternative, I am sure that we will be able to phase out much earlier. I think this is a big victory for India," the Minister said.

He said India cannot ban the pesticide overnight.

"Because there are no cost effective alternative. It is a broad spectrum insecticide," Ramesh said.

Observing that India demonstrated a constructive and a sensitive approach on the issue of banning the pesticide, he said that the "high decibel campaign" launched by the Kerala government "to paint UPA government as insensitive" to the victims was "hypocritical."

"I think they completely absolve themselves from the responsibility for what happened in Kasargod. And they try to paint UPA government as insensitive to the sufferings. Of course, we are sensitive to people's sufferings," he said.

"That's why at Geneva, we went along with the international community and said we agree.... For the first time India said we will ban Endosulfan," Ramesh said.

"I am all along being saying from day one, I have been saying that what happened in Kasargod is a collosal human tragedy. And those responsible for that tragedy must be held accountable," he said.

Alleging that aerial spraying of Endosulfan was done over 4000 hectares of cashew plantations by a state government company which caused catastrophe in Kasargod, Ramesh said, "The Kerala Government doesn't talk about this."

"The Kerala Government never points to its own responsibility for this genocide on its own people in Kasargod. And they are calling me a murderer. And they are calling me as somebody insensitive to people's concerns. This is, I think the hypocritical stand of Government of Kerala. Particularly, the Left parties," Ramesh said.

The Minister said he was "particularly aghast" at Achuthanandan calling him "a hypocrite, lier... murderer." 


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