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India's Consent takes Endosulfan on the PIC List

Day 5: With no consensus reached on white asbestos, its back to square one. The only progress was India changing its stand and therefore one less country to convert in the next COP session. Canada continues to remain the villain. India on the other hand earned some more brownie points by agreeing to list endosulfan in the PIC list or the Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.


Asbestos and Endosulfan at Rotterdam Convention

As India attends the COP5, it is worth looking at how it has fared in the past. In COP 4, held in 2008, India had played spoilsport by preventing chrysotile asbestos and endosulfan from being included in Annex III of UN's Rotterdam Convention that brands them hazardous. Including the two in the Annex III would have made mandatory for countries to take a Prior Informed Consent, or PIC, before exporting them to other countries.  


Day 1: India demands consensus

India has started on the same note that it did at the Stockhlom Convention. It sought consensus based addition of chemicals in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list. The COP5 of the Rotterdam Convention has met to decide upon the inclusion of the following chemicals in the Annex III to the convention- chrysotile asbestos, endosulfan, alachlor and aldicarb. On day one of the convention, COP5 parties adopted the agenda without amendments.

India opposes listing of Asbestos

Day 2: India opposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list on day two of the Rotterdam Convention. India cited pieces of national evidence suggesting that the substance can be used safely. Sudan too cited the same reasons for opposing the listing of chrysotile asbestos also known as white asbestos. But India and Sudan were not the only countries opposing the listing of asbestos in Annex III of the convention.


India Agrees to Asbestos Listing

Day 3: In a surprising turn of events, the Indian delegation agreed to the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention which is the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list. The turnaround came at a contact group meeting which was set up for discussion on chrysotile asbestos also known as white asbestos as they member groups of the convention could not agree upon a consensus. However, when India announced its stand it was applauded and it received a standing ovation at the plenary.


Status Quo on Asbestos

Day 4: Despite India changing its stand, the COP hasn't been able to reach a consensus on the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list. Confusion over the meaning of 'listing' as opposed to 'banning' was cited as the reason for not being able to reach a consensus.

Endosulfan Industry's Dirty War - A Chronology of events

The numbers of people affected by nearly 20 years of aerial spray of Endosulfan, an organochlorine pesticide, in the cashew plantations in Kasaragod, the northern most district of Kerala is increasing. While the focus earlier was on Padre village, the health impacts are evident in people of nearly 11 panchayats in the district. Victims here are suffering from congenital deformities, physical disabilities, mental retardation and gynecological problems. The same health impacts are now being seen in the neighboring Dakshin Kanada district in Karnataka as well.


India holds on to Endosulfan

At the sixth meeting of Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) to the Stockholm Convention (Geneva Oct 11-15), India once again opposed a global ban on the manufacture, use, import and export of endosulfan. Of the 29 members in the review committee, 24 supported the ban and four (Germany, Ghana, Nigeria and China) abstained.


The venom is spreading...

Endosulfan is claiming new victims, though a state government survey puts the total number of affected at just a little over 2,000 people in 11 gram panchayats of Kasaragod. Years after the pesticide was banned in Kerala, it is creeping into newer areas – a Down To Earth investigation has tracked down more cases in Muthalamada panchayat in Palakkad district, while reports are coming in of endosulfan-affected people from villages and hamlets located far away from regions where the pesticide was sprayed.