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Preventable asbestos related diseases and deaths must be prevented, regulators and manufacturers held criminally liable

Written By Gopal Krishna on Friday, September 30, 2016 | 2:50 AM

National Labour Institute journal publishes paper seeks “elimination of use of all kinds of asbestos as per the recommendations of the Court, ILO and WHO”

“If preventable diseases and deaths are not prevented, the regulators and manufacturers of asbestos based products must face criminal liability”, said Dr Gopal Krishna, Editor, ToxicsWatch and convener, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) while delivering a speech at the 3rd International Conference on Occupational and Environmental Health (ICOEH 2016) in at National Institute of Health & Family Welfare (NIHFW), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India, New Delhi. Drawing lessons from the ongoing industrial disaster of Bhopal caused by Union Carbide Corporation, he argued that the public health disaster being caused by asbestos based industries shows that no lessons have been learnt from the industrial disaster which happened 32 years ago and which continues to be an ongoing disaster. Like hazardous chemicals, asbestos is a threat to life throughout its life cycle. 

He was speaking at the Scientific Session III “Elimination of Asbestos Related Diseases in India” which was co-chaired by Dr. U Datta, Dean, NIHFW and Dr. Geeta Pardeshi, Associate Professor, Vardhaman Mahavir Mdical College (VMMC).

The abstract of Krishna’s paper titled “Status of enviro-occupational  health of workers in hazardous industries: An inquiry into asbestos industry” has been published in the Souvenir of the ICOEH.

“This paper examines the hazards which workers face in the in the asbestos based industries. The paper examines the implications of routine admission by the industry that asbestos fibers which are used in their plants as a raw material is hazardous in nature and the “industry will give information to the workers on hazards associated with asbestos" given the fact that asbestos factory's "Construction site has a potential hazardous environment." The paper will evaluate the regulatory mechanisms in place to deal with the deleterious effect of exposure to asbestos fibers and the role of the asbestos products manufacturers. The paper reviews the submission to National Human Rights Commission by Maharashtra government and inconsistencies that get revealed from the documents of state’s Directorate of Industrial Safety & Health (DISH) in the matter of death and diseases of workers who worked in asbestos based factories and on plots of ship breakers.”

“It examines the studies conducted by National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad on health hazards resulting from asbestos industry and shipbreaking industry.”

“The paper examines the status of asbestos factories in Bhojpur, Bihar. The occupational health status of 78 workers currently working in the asbestos based factrory in Bihiya, Bhojpur is dealt with reference to the death of a worker in the factory. The paper documents the reaction of the government and the company to the death of the worker in question. It reviews the role of State Government, Patna High Court, Bihar State Assembly, Bihar Human Rights Commission, Bihar State Pollution Control Board, Central Pollution Control Board and National Human Rights Commission in the matter of asbestos based factories in the state. The paper reviews the decision of the Government of India to stop “grant any new mining lease for asbestos (including Chrysotile variety) in the country" keeping in mind the ‘deleterious effect of asbestos mining on health of the workers’. It examines its rationale of promoting trade, manufacturing and use of asbestos fibers in India.” 

“The paper draws on lessons from the industrial disaster of 1984. This disaster demonstrated that what happens to workers happens to communities and environment. The life cycle assessment of hazardous industries and products has unequivocally established the adverse health impact on workers and consumers. Workers and the communities in the vicinity are a community of fate.  The link between occupational exposures and non-exposures isn’t quite distant. The paper underlines how lack of documentation and lack of occupational health infrastructure does not mean lack of victims of asbestos related diseases.”

“It infers that there is a need for adopting measures consistent with global scientific and medical findings to safeguard workers from asbestos related incurable diseases caused due to occupational exposures and non-occupational exposures of their families. It builds a case for intervention aimed at saving workers’ health and life from dirty, degrading and dangerous working and living conditions.”  The abstract of the paper is available at page no, 74 of the Souvenir published by ICOEH. ICOEH was co-organised by Department of Community Medicine, Vardhaman Mahavir Mdical College & Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW), New Delhi in partnership with Occupational Health and Safety Management Consultancy Services (OHS-MC) and in collaboration with Indian Public Health Association, St. Stephen's Hospital, Delhi, Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences & Research (HIMSR), New Delhi, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine, Community Medicine Department, PDU Govt. Medical College, Rajkot Gujarat, Indian Association for Adolescent Health, Dept of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, Advanced Research Publications, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh and Center for Inquiry, Washington, DC, USA.         

The Souvenir was released by Dr. Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services, Government of India along with Dr Barry Kistnasamy, Occupational Health/Compensation Commissioner, South Africa, Dr. Jugal Kishore Chairman, Scientific Committee, ICOEH, Prof Dr J K Das and Dr Ashish Mittal.    
Commenting on the presentation regarding Asbestos related diseases (ARDs), Dr. Geeta Pardeshi said, “As many cases remain undiagnosed and are not notified what is known is just tip of the iceberg- the rest represents the submerged portion of the iceberg. On one hand there is also an increasing trend of ARDs and on the other hand we have elimination of ARDs as a goal to be achieved. This means we have to change the direction as well as the magnitude of the curve- A huge challenge.”

She added, “There are gaps in our understanding of the problem in India and this is a potential area of research for young researchers. Experiences from countries which have already banned Asbestos indicates that there are serious post ban issues, especially the risks associated with exposure in abandoned asbestos mines which pose a risk of environmental exposure. India’s changing position on this issue is a cause of concern. We need to take a studied, scientific and solid stand on the international forum and be ready to face the challenges which accompany such a decision!”

Speaking at the conference, it was argued that there is a logical compulsion for Union of India to support inclusion of white chrysotile asbestos in the UN list of hazardous chemicals under UN’s Rotterdam Convention.

In a related development, an academic paper “Status of occupational health of workers in hazardous industries: An inquiry into asbestos and ship breaking industry”published in Labour & Development journal by V. V. Giri National Labour Institute, the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government India concludes. “Given incontrovertible evidence, the government ought to consider recommendations to take preventive steps by ensure elimination of use of all kinds of asbestos as per the recommendations of the Court, ILO and WHO.  The continued use of white chrysotile asbestos is a legacy of the Soviet era. There are established substitutes of these killer fibers of asbestos which need to be adopted to prevent incurable diseases but preventable deaths. In view of the ongoing environmental exposures, emergence of the epidemic of asbestos related diseases and diseases due to exposure to other hazardous substances there is an immediate need to create a register of these workers and their health records as per Court's decision and to undertake an audit of the current status of the victims of asbestos related diseases from the government hospital records in the country and make it mandatory for medical colleges to provide training for doctors. This is required so that they can diagnose diseases caused by occupational, non-occupational and environmental exposures to killer fibers and substances.”    

This paper “reveals that the relationship between the employer and the employee in asbestos industry is deeply exploitative. The latter suffers the fate of dehumanization. They have become the most vulnerable workforce in the world. Their condition is admittedly worse than the workforce in the worst industrial sector-the mining industry. This dehumanization linked to the externalization of human cost by global and national companies. The workers of the hazardous industries constitute part of the community of fate to which all wretched of the earth belong with no remedy from occupational health crisis in sight.”

Drawing on Central Government’s Draft National Health Policy, 2015 which mentions “industrial and occupational safety” as part of multiple determinants of health, it concludes that “So far “existing knowledge” has failed to inspire institutional action to safeguard the health of even the most vulnerable working class. It is apparent that there has been a policy bias against them since inception. If this policy can facilitate preventive structural measures with regard to preventable but incurable diseases “that are more prevalent in certain occupational groups” it can pave the way for occupational health justice for the workers. 

BANI/ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731 Web: http://www.asbestosfreeindia.org, www.toxicswatch.org

Why India must ratify Doha Amendment to Kyoto Protocol for pre-2020 period before ratifying Paris Agreement for post-2020 period

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, September 26, 2016 | 5:54 AM


Hon’ble President of India
Republic of India
New Delhi

Date: September 26, 2016

Subject- Why India must ratify Doha Amendment to Kyoto Protocol for pre-2020 period before ratifying Paris Agreement for post-2020 period 


This is to draw your attention towards Hon’ble Prime Minister’s announcement on September 25, 2016 that India will ratify the climate treaty on October 2, 2016 on the birth day of Mahatma Gandhi. Hon’ble Prime Minister made a reference to deliberations in Paris. The twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) took place from 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris, France. While media appears to have erred in interpreting his statement as reference to Paris climate Agreement for post 2020 period, the correct interpretation which is chronologically apposite is that he referred to ratification of Doha Amendment to Kyoto Protocol, which has been ratified by China and some 70 countries. Indian climate negotiators have consistently and rightly been taking this position.    

I submit that the Kyoto Protocol which is the only international treaty on climate till 2020 attempts to implement the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to "a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" (Art. 2). The Protocol is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities: it puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012.  A second commitment period was agreed on in 2012, known as the Doha Amendment to the protocol, in which 37 countries have binding targets. It is noteworthy that submit that USA has neither ratified the first commitment period nor the second commitment period of the Protocol.
As of September 2016, some 70 states have accepted the Doha Amendment, while entry into force requires the acceptances of 144 states. Of the 37 countries with binding commitments, only 7 have ratified. This reveals the true nature of the commitment of development countries towards climate crisis.

I submit that the issues before CoP 22, which will be held in Marrakesh, Morocco in November, 2016 entry into force of Doha Amendment besides include the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the CoP 21 Decision text. Some of the issues are precautionary principle and common but differentiated responsibilities, status of pre 2020 actions by countries, particularly those committed to the second period of the Kyoto Protocol and progress on climate finance and technology transfer discussions ahead of CoP 22. Neither Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol or Paris Agreement guarantee the safety of the world's most vulnerable but former is better than the latter for it makes provision for binding commitments and unlike the latter.

I submit that Kyoto Protocol succeeded in adopting precautionary approach but the Paris Agreement fails because it does not satisfy the provisions of Article 3.3 of UNFCCC. It reads: “The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that policies and measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost. To achieve this, such policies and measures should take into account different socio-economic contexts, be comprehensive, cover all relevant sources, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and adaptation, and comprise all economic sectors. Efforts to address climate change may be carried out cooperatively by interested Parties.”

I submit that India and civil society groups failed to support a small country like Nicaragua in the Paris Climate Conference which raised its flag questioning the autocratic change introduced in the final draft at the last moment (from ‘shall’ to ‘should’) while adopting the 12 page long Paris Agreement dated 12th December, 2015. The Agreement being a legal text required application of basic legal knowledge by negotiators from India. In law schools across the globe students are taught that “shall” is “mandatory”. The drafters of legal documents are trained into the use of “shall” as it conveys “a duty to” be performed. It conveys obligation.
Had “shall” been not important 76 pages of Words and Phrases, a multi volume work of legal definitions would not have been devoted to case laws around it. The word “should” does not express a legal obligation, the word “shall” expresses a legal requirement.
Initially, Article 4.4 of the Draft Agreement read: “Developed country Parties shall continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets. Developing country Parties should continue enhancing their mitigation efforts…” This formulation aptly captured the historic responsibilities of rich countries and differentiated responsibilities of poorer countries. But disregarding the voice of a Central American country like Nicaragua which is a member of Group of 77, succumbing to the USA’s demand shall was substituted with should. India’s decision to maintain a deafening silence when the voice of a fellow member from G77 was disregarded is contrary to its stature. India should revise its position at CoP-22.
There was a total failure in comprehending that States have a fundamental responsibility to preserve resources like the land, water, and air, which belongs to the future generations. Its responsibility “predates statutory law”. So far most civil society groups have failed to highlight it.
What Indian environment minister, Shri Prakash Javadekar did not disclose to the Parliament was admitted by Shri Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, chairperson of the Group of 134 developing countries (G77 and China Group). India is a member of this Group. Diseko has revealed that Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) for mitigating climate change is “a perversion of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities” because it undermines the “legal obligation in accordance with historical responsibilities for finance” accepted under the bullying influence of USA and its allies.
It is quite outrageous that INDCs are not legally enforceable. The paragraph 52 of the Decision of CoP 21 makes a categorical declaration that Article 8 of the Paris Agreement which deals with the issue of addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.”
Although such announcement sets a regressive precedent in international negotiations, given the fact Paris Agreement is not legally binding by implication, this attempt to escape liability for loss and damage appears unsuccessful. The 12 page long Paris Agreement dated 12th December, 2015 adopted by the countries that are Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which was adopted on 9th May, 1992, is an articulation of how ‘climate-inequality’ shapes the text of an international treaty supposedly aimed at climate justice and for the protection of Mother Earth.
It may be recalled that the false solution of carbon trade and off setting was introduced in the Kyoto Protocol at the behest of USA which had made it a pre-condition to sign the Protocol. Notably, after diluting the Protocol USA unsigned the Protocol. Unmindful of the fraud and corruption ridden carbon trade projects, instead of discarding this fake remedy the Paris Agreement makes way for global carbon market through Article 6 of the Agreement. It makes space for “voluntary contribution” among countries in the implementation of their emission reduction targets and “to allow for higher ambition in their mitigation and adaptation actions”.
It creates a new class of carbon assets namely, “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes” (ITMOs) for trading and “support for results- based payments to implement policy approaches”. This new mechanism of UNFCCC has been incarnated as Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM) as main mitigation tool in place of pre-existing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation post-2020.
I submit that what is charitably referred to as “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” in the text of the UNFCCC is in reality an act of industrial warfare against climate and its allied ecosystem whose impact has become glaring. It is quite surprising that green house gas emissions from the war industry which is reaping unprecedented profits amidst conflicts around natural resources has not been included as one of the key sources of climate crisis.
It is apparent that world governments have adopted Ostrich policy with regard to climate crisis under the influence of undemocratic economic organizations. Richer countries became prosperous and dominant due to carbon emission since 1750. Between 1850 and 2011, USA, European Union, Russian Federation, Japan and others contributed over 2/3rd of total global emissions. Notably, developed countries have been outsourcing their carbon-intensive industries to developing countries like India.
Admittedly, the estimated aggregate greenhouse gas emission levels in 2025 and 2030 resulting from INDCs do not fall within least –cost 2 degree C but rather lead to a projected level of 55 gigatons in 2030. The Decision underlines that in order to hold the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degree C above pre-industrial levels there is a need for reduction of emissions to 40 gigatons.
It is quite bizarre that while almost all the countries have stated their commitments to reduce emissions from 1990 levels, USA has decided to count its reduction in emission using 2005 as the base year. Thus, its commitment of reduction is only 14% instead of 28% as has been claimed quite deceptively.
It has been estimated that India’s current per capita income is close US’s per capita income in the 1890s. Like most developed countries where coal remains unavoidable, India continues to argue that it will continue to use coal as its primary source in its energy mix. Meanwhile, in a remarkable move, the share of renewables in India has increased over 6 times between 2002 and 2015. India has also announced that it will add 175 GW of renewable energy capacity (almost equal to the total installed power generation of Germany) by 2022. This will lead to avoidance of burning over 300 million tonnes of coal.
I submit that India cannot afford to be complacent citing emissions by top polluters given the fact emissions of top 10 % of urban Indians is about 27 times the emissions of the bottom 10 % of rural India that the carbon footprint of 1 % of the India’s wealthy class is being veiled by 823 million poor class of the country. Saving climate from poisonous market interference
I submit that Paris Agreement panders to the whims and fancies of commercial czars who are obstinately commodifying and monetizing nature and interfering with climate and allied ecosystems. The natural resource dependent communities are facing unprecedented deprivation. This has created an episteme that blindly bulldozes technical and market solutions as “real” solutions. Meanwhile, World Bank Group feigned surprise on 17th December “to see the extent and detail on carbon markets” included in the Paris Agreement that paves the way for “Carbon Markets 2.0”.
I submit that a new, non-market, climate finance mechanism is needed to support the formalization and expansion of mitigation and technology transfer as a genuine solution to combat the propensity of promoting free trade in carbon at the cost of climate system. Climate talks remain relevant because fate of the communities and global order is linked to the decision by the richest countries to undergo mandatory fossil fuel de-addiction. But the Agreement fails to make top polluters liable for “dangerous anthropogenic interference” and for endangering human ecosystem which is the substratum for the existence of living beings.
In effect, despite the brave effort of a G77 country, Paris conference failed to save climate and intra-generational and inter-generational equity from the banks and markets that threaten our planet by integrating carbon pricing policies in all sectors of economy. It failed to make ratification of Doha amendment 2012 to Kyoto Protocol, 1997 developed under the UNFCCC’s charter covering 2012-2020 time span a priority.
In such a scenario, even at this late stage India should take ethical leadership by declaring carbon trading as a fake solution and by choosing not “to pursue the reckless and environmentally harmful path to development” that the developed countries have taken so far. It should have sought early ratification of the Doha Amendment to the Protocol which is the international law till 2020. But this law has not entered into force as yet. This exposes the hollowness of the claims about leading “nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change” made by President Barack Obama in his last State of the Union address in front of the US Congress. The failure to apply “public trust doctrine” for safeguarding climate system is quite evident.
Ahead of 22nd Conference of Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)-CoP 22, which will be held in Marrakesh, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016, at a Round Table on “From Kyoto, Doha to Paris: Issues before Marrakesh Climate Conference”, in September academicians, researchers, journalists and activists dwelt on issues like Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement and role of state and non-state actors in dealing implications of climate crisis. It dwelt on the compliance with a second commitment period which has commenced from 1st January 2013 in the 11th year of the Protocol. The Round Table was organised by ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA).  
It must be noted that UNFCC’s website was altered in an effort to bury the reference to Doha Amendment. Its reference was removed from the homepage of UNFCCC during September 12-17, 2016, when it became apparent to the Presidencies of CoP-21 and CoP-22 that Indian climate negotiators will continue to insist on ratification of Doha Amendment especially because chronologically it comes first. It has reliably been learnt from the sources in the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change that developed countries have written the obituary of Doha Amendment. They have decided to engineer the global agenda in such a way as to ensure that the entire focus is on Paris Agreement, which is a post dated cheque of questionable efficacy. India must combat the propaganda of developed countries which have unleashed an information war to submerge the primacy of Doha Amendment, the only existing international climate treaty at least till 2020.           
I submit that there is a logical compulsion to undertake climate action to prevent irreversible global changes in the pre-2020 and post-2020 period. India must explore the remedial nature of the proposed solutions for combating climate crisis instead of falling into the tarp of false solutions in the 22nd year of UNFCCC’s entry into force.
Ahead of the next conference which is planned in November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco, India should take recourse to “long memories” to mobilize G-77 countries to put limits on ungovernable national and transnational business enterprises by adopting principles that account for the imminent danger to the very substratum of human existence.
It is evident that the dominant economic and political ideology has constrained the actions needed to strengthen the provisions on mitigation and in dealing with the impacts of climate crisis. Most donor driven civil society groups appear complicit with this ideology. As a consequence almost all visible activities end up being hand in glove with status quo.    

In view of the above mentioned facts your intervention is required to ensure that India ratifies mandatory Doha Amendment before ratifying voluntary Paris Agreement for the post 2020 period.   

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 9818089660, 08227816731
Web: www.toxicswatch.org   

Smt Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister of External Affairs
Shri Anil Madhav Dave, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Dr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary, Union Ministry of External Affairs
Shri Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, Government of India
Shri Ajay Narayan Jha, Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Shri Rajani Ranjan Rashmi, Special Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

P.S.: Word version of TWA's letter is attached. 

Bihar insecticide tragedy, Monocrotophos not banned as yet

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 | 12:39 AM

ToxicsWatch Alliance

Shri Radha Mohan Singh
Union Minister of Agriculture
Government of India
New Delhi

Date: September 21, 2016

Subject- Failure of Central Insecticide Board in Bihar insecticide tragedy & phase out of organophosphate-containing insecticides like Monocrotophos


With reference to Monocrotophos, the insecticide that was responsible for the Mid Day Meal tragedy on July 16, 2013 at the Dharma Sati Primary School Mashrak, Chapra in Saran district, Bihar and the failure of Central Insecticide Board, I submit that instead of recommending ban on this toxic chemical Dr. Anupam Verma headed expert committee has unwisely allowed its continued use by stating that its status is “to be reviewed again in 2018, after completion of the recommended studies”.

This came to light from the reply of Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in the Lok Sabha on July 19, 2016 while he was informing the Parliament about expert committee’s findings.

I submit that this issue is directly related to widespread availability insecticides and absence of method to deal with obsolete insecticides and their containers which are contaminated with insecticides has remained off the radar so far.

I submit that under Insecticides Act, 1968, Union Ministry of Agriculture is supposed to regulate the   import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides with a view to prevent risks to human beings and animals and for other matters connected therewith since 1971.

I submit that Central Insecticides Board, established under Section 4 of the Insecticides Act is supposed to advise the Central Government and State Governments on technical matters arising out of the administration of this Act and to carry out the other functions assigned to the Board by or under this Act on issues like “the risk to human being or animals involved in the use of insecticides and the safety measures necessary to   prevent such risk” and “the manufacture, sale, storage, transport and distribution of insecticides with a view to ensure safety to human beings or animals.” In pursuance of this mandate it is the responsibility of Dr Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare who is ex-officio Chairman of the Central Insecticide Board to intervene and guide the State Government.      

I submit that the Central Insecticide Board appears guilty of dereliction of duty because although the insecticide tragedy took place on July 16, he has failed to act in compliance of his responsibility.

I submit that there is a crying need for Agriculture Ministry and Pollution Control Boards to ensure inventorization, proper disposal of obsolete pesticides and contaminated containers.  

I submit that Organophosphorous, a chemical used as an insecticide has been identified and found to be responsible for deaths and diseases of school children. Organophosphate-containing insecticides include parathion, monocrotophosmalathion, methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dichlorvos, phosmet, fenitrothion, tetrachlorvinphos, azamethiphos, and azinphos methyl.

Besides Monocrotophos, 26 other pesticides which are to be reviewed for banning in 2018 include Acephate, Atrazine, Benfuracarb, Butachlor, Captan,  Carbendazim, Carbofuran, Chlorpyriphos, Deltamethrin, Dicofol, Dimethoate, Dinocap,  Diuron, 2,4-D, Malathion, Mancozeb, Methomyl, Monocrotophos, Oxyfluorfen, Pendimethalin, Quinalphos, Sulfosulfuron, Thiodicarb, Thiophanate methyl, Thiram, Zineb and Ziram

I submit that there is a need for a scientific mechanism to destroy the six pesticides namely Alachlor, Dichlorvos, Phorate, Phosphamidon, Triazophos and Trichlorfon which are listed for phase out by 2020. The CIB must be asked to announce its phase out plan so that present and future generations are not affected by its adverse legacy.

I submit that the recommendation for ban on 13 pesticides namely, Benomyl, Carbaryl, DDT, Diazinon, Fenarimol, Fenthion, Linuron, MEMC, Methyl Parathion, Sodium Cyanide, Thiometon, Tridemorph and Trifluralin is step in the right direction but the government should announce the ban without any further delay. This too requires a scientific mechanism for destruction to ensure that no one suffers from its continued existence in form or the other.    

I submit that according to International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), WHO which works to establish the scientific basis for the sound management of chemicals, the ingestion of 120 mg monocrotophos can be fatal. (Reference: IPCS, 1993).

I submit that HILCRON commonly known as monocrotophos has been detected in the probe by the Bihar Government’s agency. This is manufactured Hindustan Insecticides Limited, which is sunder Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers. Other manufacturers of monocrotophos include Hindustan Ciba Geigy Ltd, Bharat Pulverizing Mills Ltd., Lupin, National Organic Chemical Industries Ltd, Sudarshan and United Phosphorus. Their stringent regulation merits your urgent attention.  

I submit that monocrotophos is used for control of a broad spectrum of pests including sucking, chewing and boring insects and spider mites on cotton, paddy, sugarcane, vegetables, ground nut, soya bean, tea, coffee etc.

As per WHO classification based on oral toxicity, monocrotophos is highly hazardous. WHO recommends that for the health and welfare of workers and the general population, the handling and application of monocrotophos should be entrusted only to competently supervised and well-trained applicators, who must follow adequate safety measures and use the chemical according to good application practices. It is clear that these recommendations have not been internalized by regulatory agencies in India.

I submit that all waste and contaminated material associated with this chemical should be considered hazardous waste, according to FAO Guidelines on Prevention of Accumulation of Obsolete Pesticide Stocks and The Pesticide Storage and Stock Control Manual.

I submit that your agencies too should be involved in the probe to identify the name of the Organophosphate insecticide involved and its manufacturer. The responsibility and liability of this manufacturer must be fixed. The probe must recommend take back policy so that these manufacturers have an Extended Producers Responsibility with regard to its residual insecticides and their containers. 

I submit that most home uses of organophosphorus insecticides have been phased out in countries like USA. The US Environmental Protection Agency lists the organophosphate parathion as a possible human carcinogen. The World Health Organization, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and several environmental organisations have sought a general and global ban on it. Its use is banned or restricted in 23 countries and its import is illegal in a total of 50 countries. Its use was banned in the U.S. in 2000 and it has not been used since 2003. The usage of such insecticides continues to be used because of the political patronage enjoyed by the manufacturers of these insecticides.

I submit that your ministry should initiate efforts to recall Organophosphorus pesticides, which is responsible for about 200,000 deaths annually. Organophosphorus pesticides cause poisoning by inhibiting release of enzymes.

I submit that Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee, Union Ministry of Agriculture has dealt with issues related to pesticide poisoning in a very non-serious manner so far. It has done nothing beyond asking the States to “provide pesticide poisoning data (cases and deaths due to pesticides) as this is an important aspect related to human health.”

I submit that consumption of chemical pesticides in Bihar is matter of serious concern because the state has the potential to be a leader in natural organic farming. As per information available with Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee projected demand of chemical pesticides for the year 2010-11 was 1084 MT in Bihar. This included 530 MT and 554 MT Kharif and Rabi crops respectively. The consumption of chemicals pesticides was 828 MT for the year 2009-10 inclusive of 374 MT for Kahrif and 454 Rabi crops. Consumption of pesticides in Bihar was 850 MT during 2004-05.  

In a related development, on August, 29, 2016, Vijay Anand Tiwari, Additional District Judge II of Saran (Chhapra) court in a 49 page long verdict sentenced Mina Devi, Gandaman primary school principal to 10 and 7 years imprisonment in connection with the 2013 midday meal tragedy, in which 23 children had died after eating soyabean vegetable. The court makes mention of Monocrotophos, the pesticide in question and underlines that the food that caused the death of 23 students was contaminated with this pesticide. The verdict is available at

Although Gandaman primary school principal has been sentenced to 10 years jail term under IPC sections of 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and seven years under section 308 (criminal negligence) and fined her with Rs 2.5 lakh under Section 304 and Rs 1.25 under Section 308, the fact remains the manufacturers, sellers and regulators of pesticide have remained out of the scanner so far. The poisonous pesticide in question was kept at home for spraying on sugar cane crops. The institutional responsibility for availability of such a toxic substance lies with the regulator. In such cases manufacturers and sellers should also be held accountable.  

I submit that there are at least 5525 sale points for distribution of pesticides in Bihar.  These distributors should be made to take back the contaminated containers and the residual insecticides.  I submit that lessons from the insecticides tragedy in Bihar should not be forgotten. This creates a compelling logic for proper management of pre-existing insecticides, their containers and to initiate steps to phase out organophosphates. 

In view of the above facts and the recent insecticide tragedy, I wish to seek your urgent intervention to get to the bottom of the insecticide tragedy to take the issue of the tragedy to its logical end by banning organophosphate-containing insecticides like Monocrotophos to protect public health of the present and future generations.

Thanking You
Yours faithfully
Dr Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731
E-mail: 1715krishna@gmail.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.org

Shri Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia, Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
Shri Ramvichar Rai, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Bihar  
Chairman, Central Insecticides Board, Union Ministry of Agriculture
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