‘Government did not humiliate mothers of endosulfan victims’

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has denied the allegation that the government had humiliated the mothers of endosulfan victims after inviting them for talks here on Thursday.

In a statement here on Saturday, Mr. Chandy said the government’s attempt was to resolve the problems faced by the victims and their families through consultations with all concerned.

The meeting with the mothers of endosulfan victims was convened on Kasaragod MLA N.A. Nellikkunnu’s initiative. It was scheduled for 8 p.m. and it took place as scheduled immediately after the Cabinet meeting.

Only a few women connected with the endosulfan stir had come for the meeting. Since it was felt that it would be better to take decisions on their demands at a meeting attended by the MP and MLAs from Kasaragod; representatives of the endosulfan victims; and the district panchayat president; it was proposed that a bigger meeting could be held at the earliest in Kasaragod.

It was resolved that decisions would be taken on all the related issues at a meeting to be convened under the leadership of Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan, the Minister in charge of Kasaragod, and Minister for Panchayats M.K. Muneer.

On behalf of the government, he had assured the meeting that the government was committed to implementing the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and that the anomalies in the list of victims would be rectified at the earliest. At this point, the victims’ mothers came up with the demand that a decision on waiving the loans of the victims’ families should be taken then and there. They were assured that since the information available on the issue was fragmentary, the matter would be taken up at the Kasaragod meeting. After he had left the meeting for briefing the media on Cabinet decisions, the women began shouting slogans and staged a sit-in, Mr. Chandy said.

The UDF government, the Chief Minister said, had done the most for the endosulfan victims. The government had issued orders for implementation of all the recommendations of the NHRC and declared 11 panchayats in the district as endosulfan-affected. The government was paying between Rs.1,000 to Rs.2,000 as pension to 4,182 victims.

It had also issued orders for payment of Rs.5 lakh to the kin of victims who had died and those who were bed-ridden and Rs.3 lakh to those who were physically challenged. As many as 734 people had also been given assistance at the rate of Rs.1 lakh from the Chief Minister’s District Relief Fund, Mr. Chandy said.