Endosulfan victims pin their hopes on today’s talks

Endosulfan victims and their families have been on a protest in front of the Secretariat for the last few days .— Photo: S. Gopakumar  

While getting ready for another round of parleys with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday, the endosulfan victims of Kasaragod, who have been on a relentless battle to win their legitimate rights, are expecting a palpable government action to redress their woes.

Scores of victims had to live without medicines for the past eight months. The alleged laxity of the government in implementing the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recommendations for their welfare in full and the apathy of nationalised, scheduled and cooperative banks in waiving off their loans have forced them to take the plunge. The victims and their families were reluctant to expose their plight before the world.

But the alleged political and bureaucratic indifference in complying with the commission recommendations forced the Endosulfan Virudha Samyukta Samara Samithy to bring the victims from Kasaragod for an agitation before the Secretariat. Braving the scorching heat, the victims and their relatives have been staging a protest since January 26.

Samithy convener Ambalathara Sahadevan says that the main concern is the deteriorating health of the victims. “All of them are seriously sick and do not have the immunity to bear climatic vagaries. Their relatives do not have the wherewithal to provide medical care too. Being driven to the wall we decided to move to the capital for a concrete solution,” he says.

While the government claims to have disbursed substantial sums as relief, Mr. Sahadevan has a different tale to relate. Against the commission to give Rs.5 lakh to the kin of the dead and also to the bed-ridden and mentally challenged victims and Rs.3 lakh each to others, the officials have been disbursing only sums ranging between Rs.1 lakh and Rs.3 lakh so far. Pension disbursal too has been erratic. Free medicine supply has virtually come to a halt. Anomalies in the salary of teachers and ayahs of the students have not been rectified.

Banks are forcing the victims to repay the loans availed by themselves for treatment. Proposal for setting up a bio-village with education, health and other facilities in the district is hanging fire.

A proposal to rehabilitate the children alone without their parents is unacceptable as it is not feasible, Mr. Sahadevan says.

Whether the talks would yield a positive outcome is what remains to be seen.