'Scan pregnant women to check Endo effects'

Human rights activist Ravindranath Shanbhag demanded stern measures by the government to scan pregnant women during their 16 to 18 weeks of pregnancy to evade the impending danger of Endosulfan effects.

He stressed that abortion should be permitted if the fetus is affected by 20 weeks of pregnancy. 
Speaking at a seminar on 'Endosulfan Tragedy' organised by Human Rights Protection Foundation, the activist alleged that government is tight-lipped over the disaster taking place following the Endosulfan effect in some regions in Kerala and Karnataka.

The pregnant women should be scanned in order to avoid the birth of genetically malformed babies. He accused the Endosulfan manufacturing industries and also Cashew Board that should be held responsible for the catastrophe. 

India is the one and only country that has not imposed ban on Endosulfan manufacturing and is also using it across the country. Until recently, China accompanied India, however, China too have banned the use and manufacture of the pesticide, he said.

Stating that as many as 4,500 tonnes of Endosulfan was manufactured in 1998, Shanbhag said the production has increased to 45,000 tonnes per year at present.

There is stock of nearly 1.5 lakh tonnes of Endosulfan in India. US companies changed their venue to India once they were banned in US. As many as 62 Endosulfan manufacturing industries from the US are operating here.

The decision taken in Stockholm convention to ban Endosulfan will not be binding on India unless specifically ratified by the country. Hence, India will go ahead with the manufacturing of the chemical for the next ten years. The country has a huge network of profit worth Rs 4,000 crores in Endosulfan sales, he added.

In Karnataka, there were around 12 victims in 1998 and currently there are nearly 7,800 Endosulfan victims in the State. These victims are found in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada districts in large number. He said Supreme Court will deliver the final verdict on November 22 over Endosulfan issue.

The activist demanded that government should take up proper survey in the regions that are affected. Besides, the victims should be given appropriate compensation package. He said the victims with more than 40 per cent damage should be given Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 3 lakhs and the victims affected above 70 per cent should be compensated with nearly Rs 6 lakhs, he added.

He said Endosulfan is sprayed in as many as 29 villages in Udupi district. The region covers nearly 5,700 hectares. There are possibilities of the area in and around the villages may also be affected. The spray was started from 1987 and 1995. However, it was stopped in 2005 in Udupi district.

The villages like Brahamvara, Avarse, Nancharu, Hosadu, Nada, Badakere, Cherkadi and Byndoor are among others are in the possible affected area. He added that genetic assessment is required. “If government does not respond to our demands, we will approach High Court,” he said.

MLA Raghupathy Bhat assured that he will hold talks with DC by next week and make arrangements for survey. He said a team with the assistance of district hospital will be formed, he added.

DHO Dr Ramachandra Bairy said the survey on the Endosulfan victims is not taken up in the district till date, he added.

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