Ecologist S. Faizi, who was member of the Plachimada High Power Committee, called for measures to pay full compensation to the victims of endosulfan in Kasaragod district on Tuesday.
In a statement here, Dr. Faizi said that while it was heartening that the entire Kerala is aligned against the endosulfan scourge, it was important not to miss the need to pay adequate compensation to the victims based on the universally agreed polluter pays principle.
“The Plantation Corporation of Kerala who has recklessly used the deadly insecticide for years disregarding public protests, the Hindustan Insecticides Ltd and other manufacturers who were producing and marketing this toxic substance without disclosing its fatal effects on human beings must immediately and unconditionally provide compensation to the relatives of the deceased victims and to the surviving victims. “
The Kerala government who owns the Plantation Corporation, he said, should immediately take action in this regard; the Corporation need not source funds for this from outside but distribute its land in Kasaragod district to the victims. The Corporation holds 2292 hectors of land in the district, and this must be handed to the victims where they can build a new life, if at all that is possible, after detoxifying the land.
The government, he continued, should take immediate legal measures to elicit compensation from endosulfan manufacturers. All legal options including the creation of a tribunal on the model of Plachimada should be considered.
Dr. Faizi said that it was unfortunate and embarrassing that Indian official delegation was fighting its people at the ongoing fifth meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. “The arguments the Indian official delegation is trying to make are silly, ridiculous and run against the letter and spirit of the treaty as well as mocking the Indian Constitution. If India is not ready to join the consensus, the CoP decision must be made by voting and the Rules of Procedure of CoP does provide for that.
“India's criticism of the POPRC (Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee of the CoP) recommendation is totally invalid as there is mounting evidence from different countries to support the ban, if the deaths and sufferings in Kasaragod are not enough. India’s call for the promotion of voluntary measures, rather than ban, runs against the spirit and letter of the legally binding treaty and mocks the Indian Constitution that obliges the government to respect and implement its international treaty obligations.”
He also expressed deep concern about the delay in getting the Presidential assent to the Plachimada Coca-Cola Victims Relief and Compensation Claims Special Tribunal Bill that was passed by the State Assembly on February 24. Unless the government and the Opposition are alert there was every likelihood that the Cola company could manipulate the establishment in Delhi to sabotage the law, the same way as the pesticide lobby is playing the endosulfan game.