Endosulfan claims yet another young life in Muthalamada

A file photo of protest by families of endosulfan victims raising various demands in Kasaragod, Kerala. PHOTO: K. VINAYA KUMAR  

Death may have come as a big relief for Sharanya Chandran of the Banglamedu Dalit colony here. After living 14 years with a swollen head and extreme physical ailments, she died on Tuesday. She was admitted to a private hospital at Kollangode on Saturday after she complained of headache.

She was unable to move without the help of her parents. According to her parents, Rukmini and Chandran, it was during the eight month of pregnancy that doctors told them that fluid had entered the baby’s brain. After birth, Sharanya developed cerebral meningitis on the 28th day. Her head began to swell and she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus — a condition caused by abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid.

Sharanya used to talk, rather mumble, but could sit only with support. Her condition was similar to that of children in certain Kasaragod villages where the Plantation Corporation of Kerala aerially sprayed endosulfan on cashew plantations for over two decades, leading to serious health problems. Sharanya’s relatives believe she was a suspected endosulfan victim.

It was only two months ago her 18-year-old brother Sanju died with similar ailment. Till recently, their parents were employed in the mango orchards of Muthalamda where endosulfan is sprayed indiscriminately.

Residuary harm

“Sharanya and Sanju are victims of the residuary harm caused by the pesticide. They died after several years of endless waiting for relief packages promised by successive State governments. A detailed scientific study was promised but nothing has happened so far. The endosulfan victims of Muthalamada are now having a harrowing existence because of the sheer neglect of authorities,” pointed out environmentalist S. Guruvayurappan.

As per a survey conducted in 2014 by the Health Department, Muthalamada has 188 endosulfan victims. Among them, 77 are chronically ill. While endosulfan victims of Kasaragod were able to win a number of benefits from the government through continuous agitations, those in Muthalamada continue to remain a neglected lot.

“Two years ago, the State government announced a health and rehabilitation package for the endosulfan victims at Kollencode and Muthalamada panchayats. A full-scale survey was also announced as mental retardation, paralysis, and physical deformity were reported among the 188 people,” K.G. Kannadas, a Muthalamada-based activist, said. But nothing has happened so far.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 2:44:29 AM |

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