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Anti-endosulfan stir enters a new phase

Anti-endosulfan stir enters a new phase

Thiruvananthapuram: Anti-endosulfan activists will take out a march from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday to press for their demands of rehabilitation and financial assistance.

The march would be inaugurated later in the evening by ecologist Madhav Gadgil. It would culminate at Shamkhumukham beach here on December 30, Ambalathara Kunhikrishnan, convenor of Endosulfan-affected Peoples' Front said.

The Front has also decided to stage an indefinite 'porridge-making stir' (cooking porridge) by women victims in front of the official residence of the Chief Minister here from January 26.

Kunhikrishnan said frequent government assurances had not been kept so far, the latest being formation of a medical panel in March last to identify and categorise deserving people, which was expected to submit its report within four months.

"Nine months have passed and nothing has come out. Our demands have fallen on deaf ears," Kunhikrishnan said.

The National Human Rights Commission's direction in 2010 to central and state governments to take urgent steps to arrange treatment facilities and adequate financial assistance to Endosulfan victims was also not heeded to, he said.

The Front then began an indefinite satyagraha in front ofthe Kasaragod collectorate. Though the Chief Minister came to Kasaragod twice and held talks with officials on the matter, he did not care to meet the agitators, Kunhikrishnan said.

N Subramanian, activist of the Front, said NHRC's directions were sabotaged. "Despite stoppage of spraying in 2000, children are being born even now with genetic defects," he said.

A study by Centre for Science and Environment in 2001 in the area after the spraying was stopped also found the presence of endosulfan in humans, water bodies and soil.

The government estimates 710 people had died due to ill effects of aerial spraying of Endosulfan in cashew plantations in 4,696 hectares in the northern district from 1976 to 2000.

"But the number is much more and runs into thousands," say activists.

The government had cold-shouldered the indefinite fast the Front began from February 18 last till it entered the 32nd day, Kunhikrishnan claimed.

A meeting of peoples' representatives was called on March 25 in which it was decided to urgently provide financial assistance and free treatment to 3,205 persons identified by the government. The decision was not implemented, he said.

"Even now, thousands of people from Nileshwaram, Kasaragod and Kanhangad municipalities and 27 nearby panchayats, who are not in the list, are approaching the medical camps with problems related to Endosulfan," he said.

With the march, named 'Athijeevana Yatra' (March for Survival) anti-Endosulfan activists aim to create awareness among people on why the struggle was prolonged and press the government to take a final decision.

"Our indefinite 'porridge-making stir' in front of the Chief Minister's official residence from Republic Day will be historic and the government will be forced to lend an ear to the cries of people," Kunhikrishnan said.


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