The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 11 , 2017

Pesticide payout

New Delhi, Jan. 10: The Supreme Court today ordered the Kerala government to pay Rs 500 crore within three months to over 5,000 people who lost family members or suffered deformities and other health complications from the use of endosulfan pesticides.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar also expressed the hope that the government would consider the "feasibility of life-long treatment" for such victims.

After paying the compensation to 5,227 people, the court said the state "was at liberty to take necessary measures to recover" the sum from the Union government "through appropriate proceedings". The Centre had cleared such pesticides.

The order by the bench, also comprising Justices N.V. Ramana and D.Y. Chandrachud, came on a PIL by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). The CPM's youth wing had filed the plea in 2012, complaining about the adverse effects of endolsufan and its extensive use by farmers across the state despite it being banned globally because of the health risks it posed.

Although the Centre and the Kerala government were reluctant to stop the use of the pesticide because they deemed it effective against pests, the court had in an interim order in 2012 banned its use. The ban is still in force. Today, the matter came up for hearing after nearly two years.

Earlier, a committee of experts appointed by the Supreme Court had come out with a startling revelation that 13.35 per cent of the registered pesticides used in the country, including endosulfan, pose serious health hazards. These include reproductive system problems, impaired neurological functions, congenital deformities and several other complications.

Although the panel had said that endosulfan was not the only bug-killer that caused such harm, it had recommended that the pesticide be phased out within two years and not destroyed in incinerators as the process would cost the exchequer a whopping Rs 1,189 crore.

The panel's experts included officials from the health and agriculture ministries and the pollution control board, besides scientists.

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