Slim ray of hopes still continue for the family members of hundreds of endosulfan victims, who are awaiting firm steps from authorities concerned in ensuring the assured relief and rehabilitation packages as the indefinite relay strike by the mothers of the victim entered the 53rd day on Monday.
The office bearers of the Endosulfan Satyagraha Samithi, who had a scheduled meeting with District Collector V. N. Jithendran on Monday here to air their grievances, appeared to have come out empty handed with the authorities failing to give any categorical assurance.
During the meeting the Samithi members shared their apprehension over the prolonged delay in availing assured financial and medical assistance besides steps to initiate comprehensive rehabilitation package.
“The Collector gave patient hearing to our pleas and said he would ensure to streamline and coordinate the ongoing relief measures under the jurisdiction of the district administration,” Ambalathara Kunhikrishnan, Convener of the ‘Endosulfan Satyagraha Samithi’, that had been spearheading the agitation near the Collectorate premises, since April 20, told The Hindu.
The major issues raked up by the Samithi members during the meeting was lack of adequate doctors and other medical staff members in the General Hospital here and the District Hospital in Kanhangad. The Collector had attributed the grim situation due to unwillingness of doctors to work in the northern district despite giving assurance of higher allowances.
The Government Ayurveda hospital is finding it difficult to carry out the “panchakarma” treatment due to paucity of qualified staff members, Mr. Kunhikrishnan, quoting the Collector, said.
The Collector also had expressed his inability to hold fresh medical camps to enlist fresh victims suffering from diseases attributed to endosulfan spraying in the cashew estates of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK). The authorities require permission of the government to conduct such camps, the Samithi members were told during the meeting.
It is also learnt that the government had not issued any orders to fulfil the long standing demand of the cash strapped family members of the victims who had been seeking for writing off of their loans, Mr. Kunhikrishnan said.
The only solace to their agony is the ongoing efforts to replace the huge stock of the deadly pesticide inside the corroded barrels lying three go downs of the PCK to fresh barrels as first steps towards detoxifying endosulfan.
The administration confirmed to have received Rs. 27 crore as first instalment of compensation from the PCK to enable disbursement of relief as recommended by the National Human Rights Commission, which had suggested Rs. Five lakh each to the families of the dead as compensation and Rs. three lakh each to the critically ailing patients.
But the Government Orders that came along with the assistance does not mention anything on the manner in which the assistance has to be disbursed.
As scheduled, the Samithi members are leaving for Thiruvananthapuram to meet Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday to get categorical assurances on the assured relief and rehabilitation packaged, he said.
The Samithi had warned of resorting to indefinite hunger strike as part of intensifying the agitation from June 16 if they failed to receive any categorical assurances from the State government, he said.