Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan on Tuesday announced a comprehensive package for relief and remediation of the victims of endosulfan in the State.
The package includes higher pensions, special education, housing, drinking water supply, rehabilitation, training and employment. Debt relief to their families would be considered.
The Chief Minister made the announcement after a conference of officials, people’s representatives and non-governmental organisations convened by him to discuss the plight of the victims and review the relief measures taken so far.
The Chief Minister told the media that the pensions for all patients, who could not work, would be increased substantially. Debt relief would also be favourably considered. The Cabinet would decide on an immediate moratorium on recovery of loans and further measures.
He said that the government had identified the next of kin of 486 persons, whose deaths had been caused by endosulfan, for payment of a solatium of Rs. 50,000 each, and many had been paid. Payment would now be made to the remaining persons.
Steps would be taken to improve the supply of protected drinking water to the population. Water would be supplied in tankers where safe drinking water was not available. Directions would be given for decontamination of water sources.
Mr. Achuthanandan said that the Kasaragod Collector would prepare a package for rehabilitation and for providing employment to the victims. The youth would be given computer training and steps would be taken to provide them with employment. Action would also be taken to provide land for the landless and houses for the homeless.
He disclosed that strong steps would be taken to prevent smuggling of endosulfan into the State from other States under changed names. Arrangements would also be made for an all party delegation from the State to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to apprise him of the situation in Kerala.
A monitoring cell would be set up in the State to oversee programmes for relief and remediation of the victims. The Endosufan Victims Relief and Remediation Cell would be strengthened and brought under the Collector of Kasaragod. A deputy collector would be appointed to coordinate the activities.
The Health Department would upgrade the hospitals in the district and take steps to make expert care available to the victims. Elaborate arrangements including vehicles would be set up for care of the victims. Steps would be taken to provide rice at Rs. 2 a kg to more patients. Special education would be provided to victims who could not join the regular stream of education.
Replying to questions from the media, Mr. Achuthanandan admitted that there were reports of endosufan affecting people of Idukki, Wayanad and Palakkad districts. Water sources had been contaminated by pesticides flowing down from tea and other estates. This called for a comprehensive examination. As for the establishment of tribunals for payment of compensation to the victims, the feasibility would have to be examined, he said.