Another round of talks with government today as Endosulfan victims continue battle for rights

Wednesday, Feb 3, 2016,11:53 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Thiruvananthapuram | Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will hold another round of talks with representatives of endosulfan victims in the presence of Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan here at 5 pm Wednesday.

Over 80 endosulfan affected children and their mothers are on an indefinite sit-in strike before the Secretariat since January 26 seeking immediate disbursal of the compensation and implementation of a rehabilitation package.

Though the Samara Samithi leaders attended a meeting with the Chief Minister and the Opposition leader in this regard last week, it failed to arrive at a consensus.

As they get ready for another round of talks with the government today, the mothers of the endosulfan victims say they are in a do or die situation and cannot go back to their villages without making the government accept their demands.

They are asking the government what would be the future of their ill children, who suffered all their life for no fault of theirs, after their death.

Nearly two decades after pesticide endosulfan caused congenital defects in new borns in Kasargod district, mothers of the children are still waging a relentless battle for adequate compensation and justice.

Initially when they gave birth to the children, the women thought it was the curse of the Serpent God. But when more and more kids were born with abnormally swollen heads, shrunken brains and crippled limbs, they realised it was not the God’s will, but environmental pollution caused by endosulfan. Since then, mothers of the victims in the district, where thousands have been affected due to aerial spraying of the chemical in plantations of Kerala Cashew Corporation two decades ago, have been fighting for rights of their children. Expert studies have said that endosulfan, which is not easily degradable, contaminated the soil and water in many villages there and found its way into the food chain, affecting lower and higher forms of life, including humans.

Protesters say they had no other option than taking their ill children to the state capital to draw the attention of the administrators.

“We are here for the last seven days. But government did not even send a single doctor to inspect the health condition of these children who suffer from various health issues,” they were quoted as saying.

Ambalathara Kunjikannan, Convener of Samara Smithi, said it was not the story of one or two people, but every mother in the endosulfan-hit areas had such a pathetic story to share.

Hundreds of mothers look after crippled, handicapped and mentally retarded children in villages of Kasaragod. These children are not responsible for what they suffer. The government and the state have the responsibility to take care of him, he told PTI.

The protesters complain that the government prepared list of endosulfan victims is not complete and many enlisted victims are yet to get the due compensation.

The government had prepared a list of 5,837 victims, of which 2,818 received a portion of the compensation, but others had not received any amount, they said.

They also want all suggestions of National Human Rights Commission such as waiver of bank loans of victims and scientific rehabilitation be implemented at the earliest.

Meanwhile, government maintained that it had disbursed Rs 150.71 crore to the victims.