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Package for endosulfan victims, forum withdraws stir

Package for endosulfan victims, forum withdraws stir

Thiruvananthapuram: The State government on Monday announced a comprehensive package, including free treatment, ration and pension, to people affected by the aerial spraying of pesticide endosulfan in Kasargod district.

There has been an apprehension that the current financial assistance to victims of endosulfan would come to an end after five years, which was totally baseless, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters here.

He was speaking after chairing a meeting to discuss issues connected with the health problems faced by people of Kasargod following the spraying of endosulfan in cashew farms in the district in 1990s.

The package includes placing the families of victims in the below poverty level (BPL) category, free treatment and ration and monthly pension to cancer patients, apart from the bed-ridden and mentally retarded.

With announcement of the package, the more than a month-long indefinite fast organised by Endosulfan-affected People's Front pressing for a compensation package was called off Monday night, Front Convenor Ambalathara Kunhikrishnan said in Kasargod.

The package will also take into account the National Human Rights Commission's recommendation of Rs five lakhs to the families of the deceased.

As per its recommendation, out of the 734 affected families, the government had given compensation to 600. Remaining would be settled after verification of records for proving their eligibility, Chandy said.

A committee will also be formed for establishing a tribunal for legal proceedings against the manufacturer of endosulfan. The state Home Secretary will be the convener of this committee with the Advocate General and the Director General of Prosecution as its members, he said.

Chandy said he expected the wholehearted support of all sections of people for the successful implementation of the new package.

The meeting was attended by ministers Aryadan Mohammed, MK Muneer, KP Mohan and political and front leaders from Kasaragod district.

Further, cancer patients will also be included in the new package. Two medical camps conducted after the UDF government came to power in Kasaragod identified 1,318 beneficiaries, taking the tally of total beneficiaries to 5,500, Chandy said.

Out this, 2,295 will receive benefits as recommended by the State as well as the NHRC. The remaining persons will undergo medical examination by experts and their categories determined accordingly. For the purpose, five expert doctors will be appointed, who will submit their reports within four months.

Twelve hospitals, including private, are currently providing treatment of the endosulfan victims, and the expenses of which are being met by the government.

Four more hospitals will be added to this list and they are Kasturbha Medical College in Mangalore and Manipal, Little Flower Eye Hospital Angamaly, Government Ayurveda Medical College Pariyaram and Government Homoeo Medical College Kozhikode.

Since aerial spraying of the pesticide was practiced, the 11 panchayats currently considered on geographical basis will be reconsidered and the package would also include persons with health conditions affected by Endosulfan in other areas of the district, after appropriate medical examination.

As per the recommendation of the Social Justice Department, the pension to bystanders of endosulfan victims will be increased from Rs 400 to Rs 700.

A committee comprising Kasaragod district collector, Joint Registrar Cooperative Department Kasaragod, Special Officer Endosulfan and Lead Bank Manager will decide on the writing off of debts pertaining to the victims. The committee will submit its report to the government in three months. A six-month moratorium has been declared on the debts.

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