Spraying of the pesticide on plantations affected farmers and fishermen

Farmers and fishermen in Bhatkal taluk of Uttara Kannada district are suffering from the after-effects of the aerial spraying of endosulfan on cashew plantations in the 1970s, a report of the Western Ghats Task Force (WGTF) has said.

Anant Hegde Ashisar, chairman of the WGTF, told The Hindu that the report was based on their interaction with the people in Belake some time ago.

Many residents of Belake, Gorate, Nooz, Hadine and Mandalli villages in the taluk were found to have mental and physical disorders. According to the report, 190 people have bone-related problems and over 100 have neurological problems. Over 383 people cannot walk and 37 have eye-related problems.

On finding that these problems were similar to that being faced by people in parts of Kasargod district of Kerala, the team members informed the then Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda about the gravity of the situation.

Mr. Gowda directed the Health Department to carry out an in-depth study and submit a report to the government.

The Health Department entrusted the responsibility to the Manipal Institute of Health Sciences (MIHS) and released funds for the purpose.

Mr. Ashisar said a team of medical experts from MIHS, led by Veena Kamath, had visited Bhatkal taluk and collected samples from farmers and fishermen.

Other efforts

The task force has been working extensively in the endosulfan-affected areas of Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada districts, and conducting health camps. A series of meetings were held with senior officials of Health and Social Welfare departments and they were directed to take steps to mitigate the problems of the affected people, he said.

A State-level workshop held in Bhatkal on July 21 demanded a ban on the use of endosulfan and urged the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to test water samples from Belake in Bhatkal taluk, Kokkada in Belthangady, and Patrame and Alankara in Puttur taluk.

The workshop also demanded a separate package for rehabilitation of the affected people, he said.

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