Effects of Endosulfan devastating: SC

Asks Kerala government to release the entire compensation amount to over 5,000 victims

Published - January 10, 2017 10:46 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Years of struggle:  A file photo of Endosulfan victims and their kin   staging a protest   in Thiruvananthapuram.

Years of struggle: A file photo of Endosulfan victims and their kin staging a protest in Thiruvananthapuram.

Describing the effects of Endosulfan as “devastating,” the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Kerala government to release the entire compensation to over 5,000 victims, mostly newborns, and their families in three months.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said the State of Kerala can initiate legal proceedings to recover the compensation money from pesticide companies responsible for the production and sale of the highly controversial but cheap agrochemical. The apex court said the State government can also approach the Central government.

‘Welfare state’

Kerala has earmarked over ₹ 180 crore for the payment of compensation to victims, some of whom are terminally ill from the effects of the pesticide which was aerially sprayed on cashew plantations adjoining habitats where the victims are located.

The State has paid cash compensation ranging from ₹ 2 lakh to ₹ 5 lakh to the victims. It said the entire rehabilitation scheme, including a multi-speciality hospital, would cost over ₹ 500 crore.

Kerala counsel G. Prakash said a request to the Centre to spare ₹ 486 crore for the victims fell on deaf ears despite the Kerala High Court decision highlighting the gravity of the health issues caused by the pesticide.

“You are a welfare state ... Why don’t you make a package? Are you not concerned of your obligations as a welfare state? Why don’t you frame uniform norms for compensation? This is devastating,” CJI Khehar observed while perusing the records, pictures and news clips submitted by the petitioner, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), portraying the health crisis left behind by the pesticide. Disposing of the petition, the court said the State should consider providing life-time medical facilities to Endosulfan victims.

In 2011, the Supreme Court ordered the immediate ban of Endosulfan while disregarding pleas of over 150 private export companies. It had said “any decision affecting human life, or which may put an individual’s life at risk, must call for the most anxious scrutiny.”

‘Social responsibility’

“Every industry should look into corporate social responsibility also, you cannot just look at the money. For us cost is not the only point, even if one child suffers we do not want it on our heads. We hope it is the same for you,” then Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia had told the pesticide manufacturers.

The Bench led by Chief Justice Khehar also issued a contempt notice against a group for its advertisement in an English daily in March 2012, accompanied by a picture of Chief Justice Kapadia (as he was then), claiming that the medical reports and surveys on Endosulfan victims were “fabricated.” .

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