The last day of the Stockholm Convention, ushered some good news for all those crusading against endosulfan in India. Endosulfan has finally been brought under the Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, which means that Endosulfan should be banned globally. India softened its stand and agreed to the listing without any opposition. This was a welcome move as India had become almost notorious for opposing any ban on endosulfan in the international arena ever since it was introduced as a persistent organic pollutant in the fourth Stockholm Convention in 2008.
Endosulfan has been listed under Annex A of the Convention, with exemptions, meaning a global ban of all production and use within 5 years. This 5 year period can be extended to a maximum of 10 years. After that it will take another one year for the ban to be executed. India, China and Uganda, are the only three countries that have asked for exemptions and these are for certain pests on cotton, coffee, tea, jute, apple, tobacco, cow peas, beans, tomatoes, okra, eggplant, onion, potatoes, chillies, mango, gram, arhar, maize, rice, wheat, groundnuts and mustard. For the majority of countries, not asking for exemptions, the ban takes place within one year.
India now has to ratify its decision in a cabinet meeting and convey it to the Stockholm Convention so that the exemptions and financial support will be made available to India. Though there is a global ban India has asked for an exemption for pests in 14 crops, which is effectively for all the crops for which endosulfan has been registered with the Central Insecticides Board. Although in the immediate future, there might not be a stark reduction in the use of endosulfan but this is definitely a way ahead towards an eventual ban.
“The efforts also assure that the Stockholm convention POP Review Committee will work with parties and observers to come up with alternatives. Further it is also decided that the convention will provide financial assistance to the developing countries to replace endosulfan with alternatives,” said C Jayakumar of Thanal, who was attending the Geneva conference as an observer from India.
Simultaneously back home, the agriculture ministry on April 27 wrote to all the states to seek their view on the use of endosulfan. On April 28, Farmers Welfare and Agriculture Development ministry of Madhya Pradesh, in a letter to the central agriculture ministry, registered its support to Kerala to ban the pesticide. This was followed by the Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan's plea to all the other chief ministers to support a ban on endosulfan and write to the centre.
April 29th was the last day for the Stockholm Convention at Geneva.