UPA govt favouring pesticide lobby: Achuthanandan

Thiruvananthapuram: Stepping up the attack on the Centre over the issue of banning Endosulfan, Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan on Saturday accused the UPA government of favouring the pesticide lobby.

Achuthanandan also termed as "deplorable" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s stand that a further detailed study was needed before considering a nationwide ban on it.

He said Singh should not repeat the arguments of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who, he alleged, were out to help the pesticide lobby while turning a blind eye to the sufferings of the poor.

"This stand (of Singh) is deplorable. He should immediately take steps to convene the Cabinet to discuss the issue raised by the delegation. He should use his good offices to deal with the issue, affecting many citizens of our country, in a more responsible manner."

He said though the Indian Council of Medical Research`s report of 2002 was with the Centre, Singh had still told an all-party delegation from Kerala, which met him yesterday, that a further study by ICMR is needed to take a decision.

The Prime Minister should not "helplessly" watch the situation worsen, but instead take urgent steps to ban it, he said a day after he lashed out at Ramesh, ridiculing his environmental concerns as "sheer hypocrisy".

Achuthanandan said hundreds of citizens in Kerala and Karnataka had lost their lives and many were suffering from deformities due to ill-effects of spraying the pesticide.

Ramesh, who claimed to be a person having concern for the environment, had already proved he was not only "anti-environment, but anti-people," Achuthanandan charged.

He wanted to know why six ministers in the Union Ministry from Kerala were keeping silent on the issue. These ministers were also not concerned about getting central aid to implement rehabilitation package for Endosulfan victims, he said.

The Centre had also not bothered to implement the recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission to provide an assistance package to endosulfan victims, he said.

He said the notion so far had been that only Sharad Pawar and his Ministry were supporting endosulfan. With the Prime Minister and Jairam Ramesh speaking in the same language, it had become clear that the Congress and UPA government were also favouring the pesticide lobby, he said.

Achuthanandan said people in 11 panchayats in northern Kerala and 96 villages of southern Karnataka were affected by the pesticide. "The Centre should come out to help the people and not the pesticide lobby," he said.