SC bans Endosulfan, but where are the committees?

The Supreme Court, on May 13, passed an ad-interim order to ban the manufacture, sale and use of Endosulfan with immediate effect across the country. It also issued an order for a joint committee of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Agriculture Commissioner for a study on the health impacts of endosulfan within 8 weeks.

Now the current position is that - the ICMR which had already formed its committee at the behest of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is for the time being going ahead with its own study. The committee was formed in December 2010 and they have not yet started the study.

VM Katoch, the director general of ICMR, said that they have not yet received directives from the Supreme Court or any official intimation from the agriculture commissioner's office. The Agriculture Commissioner's office declined to comment although it became clear that the joint committee was to be formed under agriculture commissioner Gurbachan Singh. There is a buzz in the agriculture department that a committee on endosulfan is there but there is no official confirmation yet.   

About the ICMR study, the team is still designing the study protocol and that will be completed by July after which they are going to start the studies in the five states that they have zeroed down upon as the largest user of endosulfan - Punjab, Haryana, UP, Bihar and Karnataka. The ICMR has received data from different states and are working on it still.The ICMR will also be reviewing the Calicut Medical College study on 24-25 May. Katoch is clear that it is impossible to do a health impact study within 8 weeks. 

It is worth a wait to watch what study will be presented to the Supreme Court within 8 weeks.