Demand to consider plea to write off loans

Hundreds of endosulfan victims in the district are awaiting news from the State government which has, in principal, agreed to implement the relief and rehabilitation packages suggested by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Hopes were raised after the visit of the three-member team of Ministers who held discussions with various agencies and organisations that have been fighting for the cause of the victims for years.

“We are eagerly awaiting the final node from the government to provide the much-needed respite to hundreds of endosulfan victims who are leading a life of perpetual misery due to undiagnosed illnesses, attributed to the over-exposure to the pesticide,” Ambikasudan Mangad, office-bearer, Endosulfan Satyagraha Samithi that had been in the fore front of spearheading the indefinite relay hunger strike by the mothers of the victims, said.

It would be a great relief to the victims and their families if the government acceded to the long-standing demand to write off the loans availed of by the distressed families to meet the medical expenses of their wards, he said.

The government should take steps to set up a tribunal to decide the actual quantum of compensation to be paid to the deserving victims. The NHRC suggested financial assistance of Rs.5 lakh each to the family members of dead and completely bed-ridden victims and Rs.3 lakh to other victims was meagre considering the economic situation now, he said. Let the government-appointed tribunal decide the compensation amount, he said.

Special court

Efforts were also needed to set up a special court to try the actual culprits involved in driving hundreds of people into a life of perpetual misery for no fault of theirs, Mr. Mangad who is also a Malayalam professor at the Nehru Arts and Science College, Kanhangad, said.

The government was duty-bound to ensure adequate doctors and para-medical staff to provide treatment facilities for the victims and their families, most of whom hailed from economically backward sections, as the alarming health hazard had been attributed to the prolonged aerial spraying of endosulfan by the State-owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala for over two decades, he said.

The government could not wash its hands off in the issue. Most of the victims were fighting for life with no hope for a permanent recovery from the mysterious diseases, he said.

The authorities should speed up initiatives to set up the proposed medical college in the district, he said.

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