A rapid assessment of endosulfan, cashew plantation, ecology, biodiversity and people in Kasaragod by V. S. Vijayan of Salim Ali Foundation has surmised that the human sufferings and loss of biodiversity caused by the aerial spraying of endosulfan by the State-owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala in Kasaragod district would qualify as a ‘State sponsored crime’.
The study said that the State was duty bound to provide total support to the victims for their life-time or till they recovered completely and could eke out a living.
It suggested that a thorough survey of the victims with a team of doctors along with a committed social worker and ward member concerned should be made to ascertain the number of victims, the category of health issue and to decide on the kind of remedial measures.
The survey should cover not only the 11 panchayats where endosulfan was sprayed, but also the adjacent panchayats from where the impacts had been reported. Impact of endosulfan, if any, on the reported alarming decline in the population of Koraga -- a primitive tribal community in Badiadka Panchayat, might also be verified during the survey and necessary steps taken to treat and protect them.
The team led by Dr. Vijayan also proposed that a rehabilitation centre with modern facilities for treatment of all the victims of endosulfan should be established. A satellite rehabilitation centre might be opened in each panchayat so that accessibility could be made easier. Doctors from allopathy, ayurveda, sidha, and other branches of medicine might be made available to the victims’ choice. Further, a system should be established to physically support the invalid victims at their respective homes.
Appropriate occupation for victims depending on their physical and mental condition might be offered, not primarily for income generation but for keeping them engaged. Monetary support to the victim’s family should be provided on a monthly basis. Since most of the families of victims had borrowed heavily from local money lenders at extremely high interest rate for treatment of the victims, a one time waiver of loans should be considered. However, large sums should not be granted for any purpose other than such waivers.
The study also suggested that each panchayath could be allocated with 20 to 25 acres from Corporation for starting crop gardens and the same could be used as demonstration and extension centres of organic farming involving all stakeholders and beneficiaries preferably families of victims.
It recommended that rehabilitation centres and also other supports to the victims and their families should be run by an independent society. Its members should include family members of the victims, local panchayat member and president, block panchayat members from the respective area and the District Panchayat President. The society should also have representative of non-governmental organisations working for the welfare of victims besides doctors of eminence. The president of the society should be the Chief Minister. The society shall be run by its own rules and regulations, and in no way should the governmental bureaucracy be allowed to take it over.
The study also called for a cost-benefit analysis of cashew plantation in Kasaragod including ecological loss. In areas where the forests were cleared for plantation, especially on the slopes, restoration of forests might be tried. Besides, a five-year comprehensive action plan for restoration of natural ecosystems and revival of biodiversity should be implemented.