SC notice to Kerala on contempt plea by Endosulfan victims

Petition alleges wilful disobedience by State administration

December 11, 2017 11:46 pm | Updated 11:46 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A file photo of protest by families of endosulfan victims raising various demands in Kasaragod, Kerala.

A file photo of protest by families of endosulfan victims raising various demands in Kasaragod, Kerala.

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on a contempt of court petition filed by Endosulfan victims of Kerala for not complying with a January 2017 order of the court to disburse the entire compensation to all those who had been affected by the toxic pesticide within three months.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked the State government to respond to the petition alleging “wilful disobedience” on the part of the Kerala government in complying with the Supreme Court order of January 10, 2017. The contempt petition arraigns Kerala Chief Secretary K.M. Abraham as party.

Besides the plea to initiate contempt of court action, the victims from Kerala’s most affected northern district of Kasargod have urged the court to direct the Chief Secretary to “disburse ₹5 lakh to the petitioners and to all other families of Endosulfan victims in the State of Kerala forthwith.”

The victims, represented by advocates Kaleeswaram Raj and Suvidutt M.S., said that even a list prepared by the State government of victims entitled to get ₹5 lakh compensation came to around 6,000 persons. But, they contend, that there are several or numerous more victims, who have not been included in this list and are unable to pay for medical care.

These unnamed, forgotten victims continued to be in dire straits despite the Supreme Court order of January 10, which had specifically directed the State government “to release the entire undisbursed payment of compensation, quantified as ₹5 lakhs each, to all the affected persons, within three months from today.”

“Thousands of children already lost their lives due to the non-availability of proper medical care. The economic backwardness of the area prevents the persons like petitioners from giving proper care to their children on time,” the contempt petition said.

The State could not limit disbursement of the amount only to the persons included in the list maintained by it, the petition said.

In January, the Kerala government said it had earmarked over ₹180 crore for payment of compensation to victims, some of whom were terminally ill, from the effects of the pesticide which was aerially sprayed on cashew plantations adjoining habitats where the victims were located. It had said the Endosulfan rehabilitation scheme, including a multi-specialty hospital, would ideally cost over ₹500 crore.

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