New Delhi, Oct 9, 2012, DHNS:

Apex court concerned at economic impact of ban

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked an expert committee to tell in definite terms if the use of pesticide endosulfan could at all be permitted in the country or it would be in greater human advantage to ban it in entirety.

A bench asked a slew of questions to the committee, including the exact quantity of all forms of endosulfan formulations available in the country.

The court also wanted to know if it was possible to permit the export of the pesticide in case its use was not allowed here.

The Bench sought the response within six weeks while clarifying that it would not give further time to the committee as the PIL petition seeking permanent ban has been pending for over a year.

The court passed the fresh directions after noting that the committee which consisted of, among others, Director-General, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and Commissioner, Agriculture provided no “satisfactory answers.”

“Needless to say that the matter is pending for over an year, we want a definite stand of Union of India,” the court said. The interim order banning use and manufacture of endosulfan was passed on May 13 on the Centre’s support.

The committee was told on August 5, last year, to conduct scientific study if the substance caused health hazard or environmental and ecological damage.

During the hearing, the court observed: “If we allow use of endosulfan, it creates human crisis, if we continue with ban, it creates economic crisis.” The remarks came after it was pointed out that it about Rs 1,232 crore would be required for disposing of the existing stocks.

The court decided to add Director-General Health Services, one scientist each from Agriculture Ministry and ICMR and Joint Secretary, Plant Protection, Agriculture Ministry and Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board as members of the committee.

Senior counsel Krishnan Venugopal, appearing for PIL petitioner Democratic Youth Federation of India, submitted that when report of the committee emanated from the agriculture side, it tried to circumvent the order of the court banning the use of the pesticide.

The director of ICMR could not confirm that there was no consequence on human health due to its use, he said.

Framing fresh additional issues for consideration, the Bench told the committee to hold its meeting within one week and also inform it in case, the use of endosulfan was not permitted, if it was possible to destroy the available endosulfan and cost, required in it, along with economic ramifications of such a decision.

The court, while posting the matter for passing direction for November 20, said, “We make it clear we will not be inclined to give any further time to government on the matter.” The Centre had constituted the joint expert committee having members among others from National Institute of Animal Health, a group of epidemologists and immunologists to suggest measures on the issue.

The committee submitted its report on August 24 saying that, except in Kerala and Karnataka, the ban might not be imposed because no negative impact of this pesticide