Mothers of endosulfan victims want NHRC recommendations to be implemented

“We used to run outside to watch the helicopter when it flew over our villages to spray endosulfan. It was a thing of wonder for us, until we started having children with disabilities. Now, we realise that all our future generations will continue to suffer the after-effects of the chemical spraying,” says Santhakumari from Pallikkara village in Kasaragod district.

She is one of the mothers from endosulfan-affected villages who are currently on an indefinite strike in front of Cliff House since Republic Day. Even as she shares her sorrows, she struggles to feed her 20-year-old daughter who is mentally challenged and bedridden with twisted limbs.

Third stir in 2 years

This is the third time in the past two years that the mothers under the banner of the Endosulfan Peeditha Janakeeya Munnani are staging a strike demanding, among other things, the implementation of the recommendations put forward by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on 30 December, 2010.

“As per the NHRC’s recommendations, the Chief Minister had promised to distribute financial support to 5,500 individuals who were identified through several rounds of medical check-ups. The commission had asked the government to settle it within eight weeks. But after three years, only 2,295 have been considered for the support. And, only a part of the amount has been distributed,” says M. Sulfath, executive committee member of the Janakeeya Munnani.

Beneficiaries

She alleges attempts to reduce the number of beneficiaries by limiting the endosulfan-affected area to just 11 villages.

“In the first phase of medical check-ups, 27 panchayats were considered for medical and financial support. This was later reduced to 11 panchayats. But the Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair committee went a step further, and reduced it to houses within 1-kilometre radius of the Plantation Corporation. This will make many of the victims ineligible for any compensation. The committee rejected the recommendation to write off the debts incurred by the affected families for medical purposes,” she says.

Children’s plight

The mothers say that they cannot go for work as the children need constant care. “There are a few who leave their children locked up in the house as they have no other way to earn some money. The allowance for bystanders of the victims is very less. Many are not getting even that,” says Khyrunnisa, who is here with her 23-year-old son, Muazhar.

They say that the government decided in 2012 to wind up rehabilitation programmes, including medical camps for the victims, within five years. “Who will take care of our children after our deaths? We sometimes wish that they also die with us,” says Ms. Khyrunnisa.