Mothers of scores of children suffering from various mental and physical deformities owing to the use of endolsulfan in plantations in Kasargod district in North-Kerala are launching another round of protest in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram from January 30, demanding due assistance to the thousands of victims.
Noted social activist Daya Bai will be joining the stir from January 31.
While the action council of endosulfan victims, ‘Endosulfan Peeditha Janakeeya Munnani’, estimates that over 10,000 people were affected by the use of the insecticide, the official figures are only around 6,200.
Even those screened at the medical camps organised by the government and found to be affected by endosulfan were being "eliminated." Due compensations were not being given to the victims, despite Supreme Court order, the victims allege.
Action council secretary Ambalathara Kunhikrishnan said that even as the Supreme Court directed the Kerala government in January 2017 to pay compensation of Rs 500 crore to over 5,000 victims, with around Rs 5 lakh to each victim, the government paid compensation of Rs 5 lakh to only 1,350 people. Another 1,315 were paid Rs 3 lakh each.
Moreover, the number of victims were also considerably reduced in the government records in the subsequent years.
"A medical camp conducted by the government in 2017 found that about 1,905 people were affected. The district administration even made a report in this regard. But that was later cut down to 287. After strong protests, more 77 were included. As per the government, the total number of endosulfan victims in Kasargod now is around 6,200. But we estimate that it would be above 10,000. Initially, 27 Panchayts and three municipalities were considered endsulfan-affected. But now only 15 Panchayats are being considered. These were done without any genuine grounds," Kunhikrishnan told DH.
He also pointed out that when the endsulfan victims staged a stir in front of the Secretariat in 2016, the then Opposition — CPM-led LDF — strongly backed it. But when the LDF later come to power, it ignored the issue of justice to endosulfan victims. Not even proper medical facilities are provided at the hospitals in Kasargod, he said.
While around 50 mothers of endosulfan victims would be initially staging the hunger stir in front of the Secretariat, hundreds of endosulfan victims and their relatives will be launching a simultaneous sit-in protest in Kasargod also.