Thursday, February 4, 2016

Endosulfan strike withdrawn; 610 additions to beneficiaries' list

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Endosulfan victims’ strike in front of the Secretariat was called off on Wednesday evening after the government accepted the strikers demand in a parley held with their leaders.

The strike that started nine days ago was held in protest against the government for, allegedly, not keeping its promise made to endosulfan victims two years ago.

The decision to end the fast was taken after Endosulfan Virudha Samra Samithy leaders during their meeting with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the presence of Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan. Achuthanandan himself declared that the protest was being called off.

The chief minister informed at a press conference soon after the talks that all the demands of the victims had been accepted. 610 more victims were added in the beneficiaries’ list. A three member committee will be formed to prepare the list. Financial help will be provide to ensure their debts get written off.

In late February, three medical camps will be conducted for the victims. Anyone from any region of Kasargod can take part in the camp. Financial help for the victims will be raised to Rs 3 lakh. Doctors working in the affected regions will be given an incentive Rs 20,000 besides their salary

Minister K P Mohanan also took part in the meeting. It was on January 26, 2014 that the vicims held The first time the victims held protest was in January, 2104 when they cooked rice in front of the hief minister’s residence. The assurances given to the strikers at that time were allegedly not followed up by the government.

Nearly two decades ago pesticide endosulfan caused congenital defects in new borns in Kasargod district.

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.

Though a meeting was held between Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and state Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan in this regard last week, it failed to arrive at a consensus.

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