Seminar on November 29 to look into grievances

The State Human Rights Commission will host a seminar on November 29 involving all family members suffering from trauma of serious health hazards suspected to have been caused due to prolonged exposure to Endosulfan pesticide in the cashew estates of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) in the district.

 The seminar will look into grievances and suggestions from the affected residing in 11 panchayat limits and hear the PCK authorities before submitting a report to the government, commission member K.E. Gangadharan said on Saturday.

Mr. Gangadharan, on his second leg visit to the worst affected localities in the district, including Bovikkanam, Belloor and Enmakaje panchayats, made an assessment of the health condition of the victims and took note of the compensation packages, for which some of the families are yet to be enlisted, and verified medical documents.

He suggested that collection of data of the victims and their families should be entrusted to statutory bodies like grama panchayats to facilitate tangible and swift follow-up action.

Mr. Gangadharan expressed dissatisfaction over the delay in including large sections of suspected victims on the official list after he visited the Bovikkanam residence of teenaged siblings Sujith and Manikandan, who were afflicted with undiagnosed skin problems due to which they were forced to remain confined to their houses as they felt uneasy while exposed to the sun.

At the house of Prajitha, 2, who has been bedridden since birth due to serious physical retardation, the commission member asked her mother to furnish copies of medical reports on the girl.

He went to the thatched house of a 10-year-old boy, who, his mother said, refused to sit and walked in circles on the house premises.

Mr. Gangadharan expressed dismay at the lack of initiatives in taking up the cause of the victims as only 565 of the over 2,200 victims, whose condition had been termed serious in a survey of the Health Department, could find place on the official list.

Victim dead

By an odd quirk of fate, an aged suspected victim of Endosulfan passed away minutes after the State Human Rights Commission member visited his house here on Saturday to collect information about his health condition.

Narayana Vokalika, a former employee of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) who had been bedridden for years with swelling of the legs and serious chest congestion, died at his residence near the Belloor Natakkal school at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday minutes after Mr. Gangadharan visited his house to assess the health condition of the affected victims.

Soon after the official left the house, Mr. Narayana breathed his last unnoticed by his family members, including his son and daughter-in-law who had apprised the SHRC member of his health condition.

At work, Mr. Narayana had been entrusted with the job of formulating the pesticide on the nearby PCK land before it was taken for aerial spraying, As he developed swelling of the legs, he took premature retirement at the age of 55.

Mr. Narayana had been included in the official list of Endosulfan victims and was receiving a meagre amount as pension and attending medical camps till he was bedridden, said his family members.

  • ‘Data collection should be given to statutory bodies'
  • Concern over delay in including ‘victims' on list