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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) has decided to observe a dawn-to-dusk hartal across the State on April 29 to press for a total ban on production and use of Endosulfan.
The LDF State committee, which held an urgent session here on Tuesday, decided to organise the hartal to coincide with the conclusion of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in Geneva.
The alliance has sought the support of the entire population of Kerala for the hartal. The LDF described the hartal plan as a non-partisan initiative. Hospitals and distribution of milk and newspapers have been exempted from the hartal. Two-wheelers will also be allowed to ply on the day.
At the Stockholm Convention, India raised objections relating to the “absence of alternatives” and the “procedural violations” to the recommendations for a global ban on Endosulfan.
However, observer from Kerala C.Jayakumar told The Hindu over the phone from Geneva that there was softening in India's approach compared to the position taken at previous meetings.
Left MPs had on Monday staged protests in Parliament House in New Delhi to press for a ban on the “killer pesticide”.
Briefing reporters after the LDF panel meeting, alliance convener Vaikom Viswan came down heavily on what he termed the Centre's ‘negative' attitude towards the State's collective demand for a ban on Endosulfan and its refusal to join the nations across the world for a global ban on the pesticide which had wrought havoc in the lives of thousands of people across the country.
The Centre, he said, was trying to buy time in the name of further studies to confirm the adverse impact of the pesticide.
The negative consequences of Endosulfan use were already evident in Kasaragod district and parts of Tamil Nadu, and other parts of the country.
Mr. Viswan brushed aside the Opposition criticism that the LDF and Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan were striking a high moral ground after having done nothing to prevent the use of the pesticide.
The campaign against Endosulfan had begun in 2000 and, on assuming office, the LDF government had banned its use in the State, taken steps for the rehabilitation of the Endosulfan victims by paying pension to their families and provided the victims with medical care.
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