Supreme Court has slammed the Kerala government for doing “virtually nothing” for Endosulfan pesticide exposure victims.


What is ‘Endosulfan’?

  • Endosulfan is a pesticide developed in 1954. It was used widely on crops like cashew, cotton, tea, paddy, fruits and others until 2011. In 2011, the Supreme Court banned its production and distribution.
  • This pesticide is a known carcinogen, neurotoxin and genotoxin (damages DNA).
  • The health effects of the chemical include late sexual maturity, physical deformities, poisoning, among others.
  • People, especially new-borns, have suffered deformities, health complications and loss of family members due to exposure to the agrochemical.
  • Legal provisions –
      • The Insecticides Act of 1968 recommends restricted use of endosulfan.
      • The Stockholm Convention has declared endosulfan a persistent organic pollutant and 73 countries have banned its use.
      • Endosulfan has been classified has highly hazardous by USA and European Union.
      • The Industrial Toxicological Research Centre in India also classifies Endosulfan as extremely hazardous.


What is the issue then?

  • In January 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered the Kerala Government to compensate victims who suffered tragic after-effects of endosuflan pesticide.
  • The judgment had directed three steps —
      • identification of victims,
      • disbursal of ₹5 lakh compensation to each victim, and
      • setting up medical facilities to deal with the long-term health effects arising from the effects of endosulfan.
  • However, the State government failed to comply with the order and so far only 8 victims (out of 3,704 victims) had been compensated.