“I came to know the devastating impact of aerial spraying of endosulfan on your lives only after visiting you,” Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa told people of Kokkada, about 80 km from here, on Sunday.
In what was termed a “victory of democracy, albeit belated”, the Chief Minister made a special visit to the village to symbolically launch the grant of compensation of Rs. 50,000 and monthly assistance to 232 people from 211 families. The Chief Minister also announced a grant of Rs. 25 lakh “within a week” for opening a rehabilitation centre in the village for the victims.
Mr. Yeddyurappa said that when the former Minister Shobha Karandlaje, who hailed from Dakshina Kannada, raised the issue in the Assembly, nobody understood the gravity of the situation. Asserting that he was launching the scheme with a heavy heart, the Chief Minister said he realised that the Government should ensure that such a situation did not recur.
He said the Government would take a decision on the demand to ban endosulfan in the State in consultation with experts.
“This is an example of how pesticides sprayed to protect crops can lead to diseases and paralyse people,” he added.
As many as 103 people with disability, ranging from 40 to 75 per cent, received compensation of Rs. 50,000 and monthly assistance of Rs. 400 each, and 128 with disability of more than 75 per cent received a compensation of Rs. 50,000 and monthly assistance of Rs. 1,000 each.
Referring to a report submitted in 2004 which stated that the victims suffered from infertility, repeated abortion, cancer, deafness, and blindness, the Chief Minister said no action had been taken by the previous governments.
He said that he had set aside rules regarding family income that rendered several families ineligible for compensation.
The “special situation” of endosulfan victims needed relaxation of norms, he said.
The Chief Minister directed Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj to recommend proper compensation to those suffering from cancer and other ailments “setting aside rules and regulations” so that the Government could announce assistance to them with effect from March 1.
He announced a special grant of Rs. 2 crore each to Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts to mitigate the problems in drinking water supply, Rs. 10 lakh to Srirama Seva Trust of Kokkada and Rs. 2 lakh to Juma Masjid of Kokkada village.
Mr. Yeddyurappa felicitated Sridhar Gowda, who is visually challenged, who has been fighting for the cause of endosulfan victims.
Dharmadhikari of Srikshetra Dharmasthala D. Veerendra Heggade, who hailed the Government gesture as a victory of democracy, offered to run the proposed rehabilitation centre for endosulfan victims on behalf of the temple administration.
Ms. Karandlaje said endosulfan was banned in 60 countries and blamed the lobby of the company manufacturing it for “dumping” it in India. A pre-university college student and two other victims of endosulfan died in the past few weeks at Kokkada, she added.
The Deputy Commissioner said that endosulfan was sprayed in the village 25 years ago.
District in-charge Minister J. Krishna Palemar sought formation of a special team to evaluate the impact of the pesticide on the people of the village. A compensation of Rs. 50,000 was inadequate, he said.