The Human Rights Protection Foundation on Friday said that according to information provided the Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation (KCDC) to it, aerial spray of endosulfan had been done in Udupi, Kundapur and Kumta taluks.
In a press release issued here, president of the foundation Ravindranath Shanbhag said that the KCDC had provided a list of 24 villages in Udupi taluk, 50 villages in Kundapur taluk and 29 villages in Moodabidri subdivision, where the pesticide was sprayed for 20 years.
“Several children with symptoms similar to that of endosulfan toxicity have been found in some of these places. Only after the completion of a proposed survey, the foundation will be in a position to ascertain the exact position,” he said.
The Udupi district administration had set up various committees to assess the damage caused by endosulfant. Recently, officials of Revenue, Forest and Education departments organised a training programme at Kundapur for anganwadi teachers, panchayat development officers (PDOs) and village accountants on the proposed survey. A citizens’ committee had been formed under the leadership of Satyanarayana Udupa, a local advocate, to assist the district administration in its efforts to tackle the issue. Organisations such as the Bharatiya Kisan Sangha, Namma Bhoomi, Organic Farmers’ Association and the NSS unit of Bhandarkars College, Kundapur, had expressed their support to the committee, he said.
The citizens’ committee had decided to organise awareness programmes in all the 50 villages of Kundapur taluk. Six such meetings were held last week. The information given by KCDC about Uttara Kannada was not clear. “All that we know is that endosulfan was sprayed in hundreds of villages of Honnavara, Kumta, Ankola and Karwar taluks for nearly 20 years. Most of the cashew gardens are in the deep forests. We have authentic information that several mentally retarded and physically abnormal children are found in these areas too,” he said.
It was difficult to get detailed information from the KCDC. “Whenever we ask for some information, they give vague answers. For example, when we ask for the total amount of pesticides used in each cashew gardens, they send us photocopies of bunches of purchase invoices of endosulfan and several pages of stock register. It is high time that officials of KCDC realise their responsibility and provide us proper information. That will help us to come to meaningful conclusions and take necessary steps to help victims of endosulfan,” he said.