What is Endosulfan?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 20, 2022, 7:22

Endosulfan is a pesticide that is banned since it was found to be acutely toxic. On 29th April 2011, countries worldwide decided to ban Endosulfan and phase it out as an agrochemical. The Supreme Court in India passed an interim order on 13th May 2011 and banned the production, storage and distribution of Endosulfan, but due to pressure from the pesticide manufacturers, India sought remission of the global ban on the pesticide for 10 years.

Hazardous Effects of Endosulfan

  • Endosulfan affects the blood and the central nervous system
  • It causes irritability, convulsions and renal failure
  • The effects of ingesting the chemical may not be immediately visible although it is known to cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, agitation, nervousness, tremor, incoordination and convulsions
  • It can also cause respiratory failure
  • It irritates the skin, eyes and mucous membrane and disrupts the endocrine system by stunting the hormones
  • It results in neurotoxicity and sensory loss and delays sexual maturity in children
  • It is also responsible for autism in children
  • High levels of the chemical in the body can cause death

Endosulfan - The Kerala Tragedy

There is a village called Padre in Kasaragod district in Kerala. Several families in Padre village have suffered as a result of the agriculture department spraying Endosulfan on cashew, cotton, tea, paddy and fruits. The worst-hit area is along the Kodenkiri stream. Several families live at the edge of the forest in Padre where the trees, water, crops and land have absorbed Endosulfan for more than twenty years. A walk through the village is enough to send a chill down the spine of the observers.

Cerebral palsy, retardation of mental and physical growth, epilepsy and congenital anomalies are common in this village in people under the age of 25 since they have been exposed to Endosulfan. There are cases of liver cancer, blood cancer, skin disorders, asthma and psychiatric problems in the same age group.

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Doctors in the region feel that the root of the problem is the Kodenkiri stream. They believe that the stream contains so much Endosulfan that it is harming the younger population. Way back in 1963-64, the agriculture department began planting cashew trees on hills around Padre village, and by 1976, the cashew plantations were being sprayed regularly with Endosulfan.

Protests against aerial spraying began in the 2000s when people noticed that bees, frogs, fish, fireflies and jackals disappeared from the area. The negative effects of the aerial spraying of Endosulfan became obvious to the residents of Padre. However, the people were unable to convince the administrative officials.

On January 24, 2001, some residents of Padre village obtained an interim stay order from the Court of the Munsiff of Kasaragod restricting the Plantation Corporation of Kerala from spraying Endosulfan by helicopters or any other means till February 8, 2001. Later on, the stay was extended till February 16, 2001. However, for the victims of Endosulfan, it was already too late since they had succumbed to the spray of death.

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Orders Issued by the Supreme Court

In 2015, the victims were told that they could claim a sum of Rs. 50,000 to settle their bank loans. They were asked to form a society that could manage a permanent rehabilitation centre for them. A daycare centre for Endosulfan-affected kids was started at Kokkada for giving them physiotherapy.

In 2017, the SC ordered the Kerala government to compensate Endosulfan victims within 90 days since the victims had still not been adequately compensated. The Supreme Court directed the government to pay Rs 500 crores within three months as compensation to over 5,000 victims because too many newborns suffered deformities and health complications.

Final Thoughts on Endosulfan

Although the victims have suffered terribly, they have not been compensated fully. In February 2022, the Supreme Court issued notice on a petition seeking action against the Kerala government for not distributing 5 lakh each as compensation to the victims. A lot still needs to be done so that the people of Padre village can try and live as well as they can despite the circumstances of their life.

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FAQs on Endosulfan

Q1) Which country sought remission of the ban on Endosulfan?

India sought remission of the ban on Endosulfan.

Q2) When was the global consensus reached on banning Endosulfan?

Global consensus to ban Endosulfan was reached on 29th April 2011

Q3) For how many years did India seek remission of the ban on Endosulfan?

India sought remission of the ban on Endosulfan for 10 years.

Q4) The residents of which district in Kerala suffered the most as a result of the aerial spraying of Endosulfan?

The residents of the Kasaragod district in Kerala suffered the most as a result of the aerial spraying of Endosulfan.

Q5) In which year did the residents of Padre obtain an interim order from the Munsiff of Kasaragod preventing the aerial spraying of Endosulfan?

On January 24, 2001, the residents of Padre obtained an interim order against the aerial spraying of Endosulfan.