People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 19

May 08, 2011



Anti-Endosulphan Hartal in Kerala

N S Sajith

APRIL 29, it was the day of people’s hartal against the killer pesticide. The people of Kerala once again made history by rallying the masses against the endosulphan. They wholeheartedly took up the call of the Left Democratic Front.

The protest coincided with the last day of the meeting of Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in Geneva, where the question of global ban on endosulfan has figured prominently. Prior to this hartal, the state government had organised a statewide protest including the fasting on April 29. The fasting led by chief minister V S Achuthanandan in Thiruvananthapuram attracted thousands of people. Leaders from socio-politico, cultural and religious fields also took part in the fast on the day, on which the Stockholm convention began. When the BJP leader and former central minister O Rajagopal attended the fast, the entire Congress leadership opted to keep away from this protest.

 The dawn-to-desk hartal on April 29 demanding the country wide ban on this killer pesticide became a huge success as the people cutting across party lines rallied with the LDF. Ending up in a victory for this historical struggle, the Stockholm convention held in Geneva unanimously decided to ban this pesticide globally.

The public modes of transport like buses, taxis and autorickshaws were off the road and shops, offices, educational institutions and factories across the state remained closed. But the train services were not affected. Trade unions like the CITU, AITUC also extended their support to the hartal.

For quite some time, Kerala has been stepping up pressure on the central government for a nationwide ban on the deadly pesticide, whose use over the years left scores dead and forced several hundreds to live in chronic health problems in parts of Kasargod district.

In Thiruvananthapuram, a huge public meeting was held near the General Post Office which was inaugurated by the CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. He led a massive rally attended by prominent LDF leaders.