Call for ratification of POPs treaty

Press release - May 12, 2002
TRIVANDRUM, India — Community Groups like Deepthi Kala Samskarika Samithi (DKSS) and environmental organizations - Greenpeace, Thanal, Nature Care Organisation (NCO), Kerala Environment and Development Society (KEDS) jointly demanded ratification of the POPs Treaty by India. Lauding the Government for joining the global process to eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) by signing this landmark treaty, the groups urged India to lead the implementation of the treaty by ratifying it before the Earth Summit at Johannesburg.

Kicking off a weeklong programme organised in connection with the International Day of Action against Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) at Sankhumughom Beach today, thousands of signed petition cards reading "India ratify the POPs treaty" were sent to Sri T R Baalu, Minister for Environment and Forests. The community unraveled a large Earth-balloon with a 40 feet banner exhibition on POPs. Also part of the programme was the screening of "Drum-beats for Mother Earth", a fascinating film on the deadly role of these chemicals in eroding the integrity of life on Earth. Produced by the Indigenous Communities Environment Network and Greenpeace, this film, dubbed in Malayalam, will be widely screened in Kerala in the coming months.

POPs are a class of synthetic toxic chemicals that cause severe and long-term effects on wildlife, ecosystems and human health. They are persistent in the environment and are toxic even at very low concentrations. Acknowledging the all pervasive dangers posed by these chemicals to public health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) General Assembly asked countries all over the world to jointly take action to address the issue. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) led the negotiations and adopted the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants on May 23rd last year.

"I come from Eloor, the largest industrial estate in Kerala, with daily gas leaks and heavy pollution. This simmering Bhopal has led to despair and disease in every home I know. Treaties like the POPs treaty, which aims to eliminate these poisons from the earth, are our only hope," said V J Jose, community activist from Eloor.

Accepting the petitions from the communities, the Executive Director of Greenpeace, Ananthapadmanabhan said: "These 'poisons of greed' are responsible for the distress of communities all over India. Indians are potentially one of the most exposed populations to these deadly chemicals. The POPs treaty is the manifestation of the growing global institutional support for the struggle of these communities. It is in our own national interest that we ratify this treaty NOW."

More and more countries are joining the ratification process. The communities felt that India must take the lead in the ratification, so that we can counter the menace of dumping of toxic chemicals and technologies from multinational corporations of 'developed' countries.

"POPs chemicals contaminate our homes, poison our children and our future. A consumerist state like Kerala is all the more at risk as these chemicals find their way into the food that we consume in our homes and through the numerous products that we use. Only a large global action like this treaty can stop this," said C Jayakumar of Thanal, a Public Interest Research Organization, which coordinates the focal points for the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN). The International Day of Action on the First Anniversary of the POPs Treaty on May 23, 2002 was called for by IPEN, a network of 400 organisations from countries all over the world.

The week of activities planned by Thanal and Greenpeace includes a Childrens' Assembly on POPs and a public exhibition. The activity will peak in Delhi with the submission of the petitions by the Greenpeace Executive Director to the Minister of Environment and Forests, Shri T R Baalu, on the anniversary of the treaty , the 23rd of the month.


1) Eloor in Kochi, Kerala was declared the 35th Global Toxic Hotspot by Greenpeace during their Toxic Free Asia Tour, 1999 after a study found area to be contaminated with deadly organochlorines like DDT and metabolites, Endosulfan and derivatives, BHC etc. (For more details : Toxic HotSpots : A Greenpeace Investigation of Hindustan Insecticides Limited, Udyogamandal, Kerala).

2) The POPs Treaty aims at international action to protect human health and the environment through measures, which will reduce and/or eliminate emissions and discharges of persistent organic pollutants aiming towards ultimate elimination of the same. The process starts with global action against the "Dirty Dozen" chemicals .For the text of the Stockholm Treaty:

3) Dirty Dozen chemicals are Hexachlorobenzene, Mirex, Chlordane, DDT, Endrin, Toxaphene, Heptachlor, Aldrin, Dieldrin, PCB's, Dioxins and Furans.

4) Aerial spraying of a pesticide Endosulfan in the Cashew Plantations of Plantation Corporation of Kerala in Kasaragod. For 25 years, every year pesticide was sprayed 2-3 times. (For more details : Long-term effects of Aerial spraying of endosulfan in Kasaragod: Report by Thanal)

For more information:Sanjiv Gopal, Toxic Campaigner - 08051154861

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For more information:Manu Gopalan, Toxics Campaigner - 9811608036

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