Equating the serious health hazards wrecked in the district due to the indiscriminate exposure of endosulfan pesticide for over two decades with that of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, acclaimed environmental activist Sunita Narain has said that the major task before the administration was to bring hopes and cheers back to the life of the hapless victims of the “killer” pesticide spraying.
“Assuaging the hurt feelings of the hundreds of victims of aerial spraying of the endosulfan pesticide in the state owned cashew estates in the district is the most important task before the administration and the State government and the local Member of Parliament had played critical role in partially assuaging the hurt feeling of the ill-fated victims and their families”, the Padmashree award winning environmentalist said.
Dr. Narain was delivering a key note address at the two-day workshop on endosufaln –- ‘CONCORD -12’ that commenced here on Saturday as around 700 delegates from the State and rest of the country converged here to take part in the event, aimed at clearly laying road map to indicate the manner in which the ongoing relief and rehabilitation programme has to be carried out.
There is an urgent need on the part of the administration and other voluntary agencies to move on a fast track mode in implementing comprehensive and flawless rehabilitation package for the numerous victims and their families by setting up not only medical colleges but ensuring decentralized medical facilities at the panchayat level in the affected localities, Dr. Narain, who had visited quite a few affected families in worst affected Perla in the district, said in her inspiring speech.
The relief and rehabilitation packages should be implemented in such a manner that the affected families are no more the victims but survivors of the serious health hazards caused due to indiscriminate aerial spraying of the deadly pesticide.
Another area of focus that needed to be accorded on top most priority is the need to go for rejuvenating organic farming in a big way so that the rich bio-diversity the picturesque region once had enjoyed is brought back and thus succeed in making a complete turnaround, she said.
It is wrong to presume that one could achieve prosperity at the cost of precious natural resources and both aspects should go in tandem, she reminded.
Stating that the so called pesticide lobby is so influential in the Indian political and economic scenario, she complimented the Kerala Government and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in particular for not succumbing to the pressures exerted by the business group.
She wondered as to why the reports submitted by various medical institutes including the Calicut Medical College on the possible health hazards of the deadly pesticide was ignored in the past to serve the interests of the vested business groups.
“Such decisions over-ruling the environmental and health concerns had really insulted people like us”, the acclaimed environmental and political activist said adding that the serious health hazards caused by the pesticide spraying in the Plantation Corporation of Kerala’s cashew estates for over two decades could be equated with that of the Bhopal gas tragedy.
It is quite sad to note that a section of responsible scientific community deliberately failed to understand that the over-exposure of any toxic chemical pesticide could lead to slow poisoning of human beings and harm the eco system as a whole in the long run.
Dr. Narain, who is the Director of the New Delhi-based Society for Environmental Communications and publisher of the fortnightly magazine ‘Down to Earth’ who had visited a few affected families in the district and interacted with leading environmental activists like Dr. Mohan Kumar, Sripedre and Leela Kumari Amma, who staged a prolonged fight for the cause of the affected people, complimented the district administration for their efforts in reaching benefits to those reeling under mysterious diseases.
The administration, for sure, could bring back cheers and smile on the face of the victims and could play a lead role in the endeavour to have a great turn around in the district, still grappling with the serious health hazards, she said, lauding efforts of the district administration and local bodies and voluntary agencies in reaching out solace to the affected families in the district.