The second phase of the indefinite hunger strike launched in Kasaragod seeking comprehensive rehabilitation package for hundreds of Endosulfan victims in the district entered the third day on Wednesday.
Subhash Cheemeni and P. Krishnan, ‘Endosulfan Peedhitha Janakeeya Munnani’ activists, are on indefinite hunger strike from February 18. Veteran journalist B. R. P. Bhaskar inaugurated the agitation on Monday.
“There has been a general perception among the public and the political leadership that the serious social and health hazards caused by the prolonged exposure to Endsulfan pesticide in the cashew estates of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) is over once for all with the ban on pesticide coming into force in the State”, Samithi convener Ambalathara Kunhi Krishnan said.
The reluctance of major political parties to take up the issues of the victims and the ‘lax’ approach by the State government in the implementation of packages recommended by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have forced the Samithi to wage a “do-or-die” battle, he said.
“The four-months long relay hunger strike by the mothers of the victims was called off following talks with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy whose assurances remain unfulfilled till now… By re-launching intensified agitation this time we want to spread the news that the victims are still facing the same issues and the assurances remain unfulfilled,” he said.
Besides the implementation of NHRC packages, the agitators are also demanding a tribunal to decide on compensation to ‘other categories’ of victims included in the official list. The move to ‘truncate’ the victim’s list is ‘unwarranted and unacceptable’.
The agitators want medical camps to be held outside the identified Panchayat limits to check if any persons are affected due to the aerial spraying of the pesticide in the PCK estates for over two decades.
Doctors’ posts lie vacant
Efforts should be taken on a priority basis to fill up the post of doctors and specialists like neurologists, lying vacant for months as the patients residing in remote areas are forced to avail ‘cosmetic’ treatment, Mr. Krishnan said.
The NHRC, which announced the compensation package to the victims in 2010, had asked the government to disburse the compensation in eight weeks time.
Officials here said they had disbursed Rs.1.50 lakh and Rs. one lakh each to 1,613 patients in the two categories and Rs. 1.50 lakh each to families of around 400 deceased victims.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and MLA E. Chandrasekharan, District Panchayat president P. P. Shyamala Devi and social activist T. C. Madhava Panicker visited the venue of the strike near the new bus station today.
Criticising the move to limit the ongoing relief measures to the next five years, Mr. Krishnan said the government, which was primarily responsible for using the pesticide in the State, has to provide relief on a long term basis to assuage the hurt feelings of the victims and their families, who are forced to lead a life of perpetual misery because of the mysterious diseases for no fault of theirs.