Maintaining that the Kerala government was determined to “dilute the spirit” of the relief and rehabilitation packages suggested by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the ‘Endosulfan Janakeeya Peeditha Munnani’ has urged the Commission to ask the administration to fully execute its recommendation to help the deserving victims of the “killer” pesticide spraying in the district.
In a letter dated August 20 to the Chairman of the NHRC, Ambalathara Kunhikrishnan, Convener of the Front, which had been spearheading indefinite relay hunger strike by mothers of endosulfan victims in the district since April 20, alleged that the State government had opted to partially implement the Commission’s recommendation, thereby “diluting the true spirit” of its intentions and to escape from inviting legal hassles.
“It appears that there has been glaring discrepancies in the steps taken as per the Commission’s recommendation dated December 31, 2010 and the subsequent Government Order of May 5, 2012 stating that the State government had opted to implement relief and rehabilitation packages as per the NHRC recommendation,” Mr. Kunhikrishnan said in the letter.
The totally bed-ridden victims or the mentally retarded were excluded from the category for financial assistance of Rs 5 lakhs suggested by the Commission as the panel of doctors had selected a few, depending on old medical records.
The clause that ‘a panel of doctors may assess the extent of physical disability to classify the categories of victims’ was interpreted narrowly so as to exclude patients with cancer and other serious disabilities attributed to prolonged exposure of endosulfan in the affected 11 panchayats of the district, he alleged.
People who had been included in the official list of victims through medical camps held in August and December 2010, were not listed as eligible for assistance. The NHRC had estimated the victims to be about 6000. The government, however, limited the Rs 5 lakh assistance to just 180 people and the Rs three lakhs to just about 1,200 people.
“This is quite contrary to the letter and spirit of NHRC recommendations and in effect a denial of natural justice to many deserving victims, it said.
It further said that the recommendation to survey other affected panchayats was totally neglected and only people of 11 panchayats having the State owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) were taken into consideration for financial assistance. This was in contrast to the government’ assertion earlier that the victims were spread in over 27 panchayat limits.
The NHRC was also urged to initiate steps to determine affected areas by scientifically assessing parameters like topography, meteorology, land use, water flow and seepage, wind direction and to include neighbouring localities affected by the over use of the pesticide in the district.
The Munnani, joining hands with the Anti-Endosulfan Campaign Committee, on Tuesday took a march to the Collectorate to protest the suicide of a 60-year old Janu Naik, suffering from cancer, attributed to the pesticide spraying, after he did not find name in the official list of the victims.