Arsenic tainted pesticides in the market again despite Court restraint

Contamination negligible claims Registrar of Pesticides, Court of Appeal directs Snr. State Counsel to submit report
By Telles Anandappa

Pesticides contaminated with arsenic have been issued to the market despite a Court recommendation that such pesticides be prevented from distribution, Court was told this week. Petitioner, Centre for Environmental Justice (Guarantee) Ltd., informed Court that the Registrar of Pesticides had issued pesticides contaminated with arsenic, despite a Court recommendation against distribution of such pesticides.

The Registrar of Pesticides, the Central Environmental Authority, Commissioner General of Agrarian Development, Consumer Affairs and the Attorney General were cited as respondents.

Attorney Ravindranath Dabare, Counsel for the petitioner, said that statistics obtained from hospital sources revealed that around 20,000 people have died from kidney diseases in the Rajarata area, while around 20,000 people are suffering form kidney disease.

Petitioner states that experiments conducted on the imported pesticides confirmed the presence of arsenic, which is injurious to health. Petitioner was seeking an order directing the Registrar of Pesticides to devise a method, and to recommend to Government, for the implementation of a comprehensive national policy and/or criteria for the regulation of the use of pesticides.

When pesticides containing arsenic come in contact with the water, it reacts, producing calcium arsenate, which is the main cause of kidney problems. Petitioner informed Court that the Registrar of Pesticides had issued a letter stating that the pesticides contained a very minute percentage of arsenic, are not injurious to health, and therefore, ordered its release into the market.

Court of Appeal Justices S. Sriskandarajah and H. Nalin Perera, directed Senior State Counsel Arjuna Obeysekera to go into the matter and make submissions to Court by November 4.

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