Zilla Panchayat members on Thursday expressed their anguish over the lack of arrangements at the Puttur General Hospital that caused hardship to victims of endosulfan on Tuesday.
The camp at Puttur Government hospital was among several camps being held to ascertain the percentage of disability of 1,907 people identified as suffering from various illnesses in endosulfan-affected areas during a drive held from December 5 to 7 last year. A team of 10 experts was asked to submit its findings about the percentage of disability; on the basis of which the Health Department will issue disability cards.
Raising the issue during the District Planning Committee meeting, zilla panchayat member Keshava Gowda Bajattur said no arrangements had been made at the hospital where around 400 people affected by endosulfan had been called on Tuesday. “There was absolute chaos. Leave aside food, no arrangement was made even for drinking water,” he said.
Another zilla panchayat member said the staff at the hospital did not have any information about the camp. The Taluk Health Officer had switched off his mobile phone and was attending a meeting to review development works in Mangalore. “These people (victims) are already suffering because of ailments resulting due to exposure to endosulfan. Such poor arrangements have further agonised them,” she said. The two members demanded disciplinary action against those who failed to make arrangements.
Following direction by the State Government, District Health Officer O. Srirangappa said meetings had been held with the Taluk Health Officers earlier this month to work out modalities of holding camps for assessing the disability.
“I was shocked to hear from Mr. Bajattur, who called me to inform about the problems. I was not in Mangalore when this happened,” he said. Dr. Srirangappa said notice had been issued to the Puttur Taluk Health Officer seeking explanation about mismanagement of the camp at Puttur Government Hospital.
Dr. Srirangappa said following the incident in Puttur, arrangements were made to take victims coming under four Primary Health Centres of Puttur taluk to Vittal Government hospital where expert doctors assessed the percentage of disability. Similar arrangements had been made to bring victims from Neelyadi, Kadaba and Kokkada to the government hospital in Kokkada.
Meanwhile, activists fighting for endosulfan victims blamed the Health Department for the mismanagement at the Puttur Government Hospital.
“The mismanagement is a result of lack of coordination between officials involved in this exercise,” Nityananda Pai, a doctor from Puttur, who has been treating people affected by endosulfan, told The Hindu. The ongoing exercise, Dr. Pai said, shows the failure of the drive conducted in December 2012 in identifying the extent of disability of the victims.
Shridar Gowda, an activist and endosulfan victim, said the problem at Puttur was because every victim had been called. “There was no information that the camp was only for the purpose of identifying the physical and mental disability,” he said. He said that chaos would continue prevail even at the camps that were to be held in the next few days.