The Kerala Cabinet on Wednesday approved a comprehensive scheme for the treatment and rehabilitation of the people afflicted by the use of endosulfan in the cashew plantations near their homes in Kasaragod district of the State.

Briefing the media, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the Health Department would provide various kinds of assistance for the treatment and rehabilitation of the victims. The Cabinet had sanctioned Rs. 125 lakh for the modernisation of the hospitals in the area, improvement of medical facilities and posting of temporary hands to man the services.

The government would also provide a monthly assistance of Rs. 250 to a family member each who is taking care of seriously handicapped persons. Besides, rice at Rs. 2 per kg would be provided to the families of nearly 2000 persons affected by ingestion of this pesticide.

Mr. Achuthanandan said that endosulfan was leaching into the water bodies of the State owing to their use in tea, cardamom and other estates. The government would be writing to the Centre for the ban of this pesticide at the national level.

Replying to a question, the Chief Minister said that he would examine the stand taken by the State Director of Agriculture, who was a member of the Mayee committee appointed by the Centre to look into the consequences of the use of endosulfan in 2004, that no link had been established between endosulfan and the manifestation of various diseases and abnormalities among the population in Padre village of Kasaragod district.

The State-owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala had sprayed endosulfan using helicopters in its cashew plantations in the district for nearly 25 years since the late seventies. A committee appointed by the State government recently observed that the major impacts of endosulfan exposure in the villages (11 panchayats) were, increased congenital abnormalities including limb and cardiac abnormalities, severe mental retardations including cerebral palsy and hydrocephalous, cancers and skin diseases. Most of them lead to death or permanent disabilities which require life-long support even for daily life activities.

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