When one comes across ‘Endosulfan Tragedy’ immediately his mind flies to Kasaragod. Because, Kasaragod has been in news since long in this regard. But, there are more places In Kerala which suffer the aftereffects of endosulfan showers and resultant heart-breaking tragedies. Thathengalam in Thenkara village in Palakkad district is one such place. But, since the medical examination results sunk in the red tape for long seven years the plight of the victims of the tragedy in Thathengalam did not attract any statutory attention. At last the medical reports came to the day light in late July, 2022, thanks to the intervention of an RTI activist hence Human Rights Commission.
The report states that 45 persons were found suffering from critical genetic diseases including cerebral palsy in Thathengalam area. Many of them are already dead. Several others still suffer sans any support from anywhere. Juvenile patients are between the ages of five and ten. Many of them suffer critical diseases. Nine of them suffer cerebral palsy, several others are found to be developing disorders. Symptoms found are said to be quite similar to those found in the victims in Kasaragod.
Endosulfan, the poisonous pesticide, was sprayed in the cashew farms of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala in Thenkara for nearly fifteen years. The labourers employed were not given any safety gears or measures. Helicopters were deployed to do aerial spray. When the labourers and local residents complained against failing health, a five-member team of doctors came there, in 2015, from the medical college of Thrissur, the neighbouring district. About 200 of the people of that area underwent the medical examination. But, the examination results kept evading mysteriously. Nobody knew why. It remained a mystery.
But, Rajeev Keralasserry, an RTI (Right To Information) activist and Keralasserry Panchayat Member, was not ready to sit back. He lodged a complaint before the State Human Rights Commission. Commission took quick action. They directed the District Collector to ‘fish out’ the ‘missing’ report urgently. Then the Health Department did fall in line. Interestingly, the same Health Department had earlier replied the RTI enquiries that they did not have the report with them.
But why did it take the District Medical Office and District Collectorate seven long years to release the report. The answer is simple : Government will have to meet monetary support to the victims! Government will have to pick up the tab for the victims’ medical expenses too!
Rajeev told this correspondent that what happened in Palakkad is nothing but a horrific cruelty. It is a blatant human rights violation. He said, he has been chasing the authorities, in this regard, since 2018. However he is complacent about his RTI success. He demanded immediate endosulfan screening in Thenkara and nearby places and ascertain the victims. They should be given best available medical treatment. Proper monetary compensation should be provided for the victims.
The matter is important in the wake of the complaints from the Kasaragod victims that their monetary compensation is delayed quite often. This is one more breach of promise from the side of the Pinarayi Vijayan led-LDF regime. Since they came to power they have been following the same style in handling the burning issues the people of the state face. Institutionalisation of corruption, appeasement of Islamic fundamentalists, abusing the police power and Public Service Commission, ‘reserving’ government jobs for the relatives and spouses of party leaders, reckless expenditure of tax payers’ money for the luxurious life of the ministers, unnecessary appointments of ‘own men’ with film stars’ salary and so on are the characteristics of this style. Who then cares about endosulfan victims?