Sridhar Gowda regrets that there is no mention of rehabilitation in the budget

An activist fighting for the rights of the people affected by endosulfan in Dakshina Kannada on Tuesday regretted that political representatives were not doing enough to alleviate the plight of the victims. Even though he congratulated Health Minister U. T. Khader for announcing a package for the victims, Sridhar Gowda, president, Endosulfan Virodhi Horatha Samiti, told The Hindu that the State budget presented last week was silent on the issue of rehabilitation.

There is no awareness on the issue at the State level, he said.

Mr. Gowda said political representatives in Karnataka have been boasting about providing compensation package to the victims on par with Kerala.

“But none of them know what the Kerala model is. Last year, the Human Rights Commission directed the Kerala government to give the victims a one-time compensation of Rs. 3 lakh, deposit an amount of Rs. 2 lakh (with interest according to the victim each month as pension to his or her bank account) and ensure their rehabilitation.

Genuine concern

If politicians have genuine concern for the victims, they should start working for the 1,907 victims as identified by the Health Department in Puttur, Sullia, Bantwal and Belthangady,” he said.

Mr. Gowda said the Samiti’s suggestion to get pregnant women scanned to check for abnormalities was welcomed by Mr. Khader. Yet, when the camp for scanning was held in Mangalore, the Minister stopped the test on the grounds of possible misuse.

Mr. Gowda said he was now trying to find out if there had been misuse of the scanning facility in the district’s 130 centres under the Right To Information application.

“We are not asking pregnant women to be scanned find whether the foetus is a boy or girl. We are only asking – is the unborn child is healthy or not.”

The Samiti had earlier suggested studying the genes of unmarried victims to identify potential problems. However, the government had rejected the proposal as the process was “highly expensive”.