Dear Brothers & Sisters, Hope this letter finds you all well. We, from Kasargod, Kerala, do not claim to feel so well. How can we when some of us are holding our physically and mentally challenged children in our hands? How can we when we know that many more are going to be born so? Also when many of us have unknown and frightening ailments haunting our bodies day in and day out? Our tryst with disaster and distress started 40 years ago when the Plantation Corporation of Kerala decided to aerially spray the pesticide Endosulfan in its prestigious cashew plantation near our villages in Kasargod district, Kerala. The helicopters carrying the deadly poison meant to kill the tea mosquito sprayed indiscriminately on 4696 hectares from 1978 without any warning or knowledge about its impacts. The rest is not history. It is in our lives, our present and future. We know the water we drink, the air we breathe and the soil we grow our crops are contaminated for years. We do not know the physical and chemical features of the poison. But we know the way it has tampered and destroyed our bodies, our vital organs and our health. What more proof do we need than the vacant look in the eyes of our babies, the limp limbs and pain as we struggle to hold their legs making the first steps, the milk that trickles down their mouths as they try to swallow? The diagnosis is different, the treatments long, arduous, costly and sometimes hopeless. But we know one thing: that our children are sick and in distress. Our land became bereft of life like in the book ‘The Silent Spring’. Here in our villages it is now big news that crows are nesting on coconut trees, that magpie robins and koels sing, that hares and peacocks shelter not to speak of frogs and ants, honey bees and beetles that are rare visitors in this dead landscape. All because of that 10 letter word- ENDOSULFAN. Each time one of you chew on the crisp, tasty cashew nut, remember this could have come from our soil. This may or may not be contaminated with the poison. But it is definitely tinged with our tears and blood. After the first attempt by a bold woman employed in the Agriculture Department who went to Court seeking for a ban to Endosulfan spraying and linking it to the fatal ill health of her family, the movement has built up and has now reached International levels. We have done many things to show the world that we are still alive in this toxic world. The Signature Tree in our region has held the support sign of so many people. We know we are not alone. But we write this requesting your support at this crucial stage. We are now engaged in an indefinite fast and Satyagraha in Kasargod demanding the following: 1. To review the decision to give aid and help for just 5 years by the Government. 2. To include all deserving people in the list which is now incomplete. 3. Implement all the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission. 4. Constitute a Tribunal for Compensation and Identification of the Real culprits. 5. The debt load of the affected people be taken by the Government. 6. To design a scientific rehabilitation program for the affected region. 7. To remove and detoxify the Endosulfan reserves still remaining in the godowns. 8. To plan a proper Natural farming policy phasing out all toxic pesticides that kill, maim and contaminate soil, food and human bodies. As of now, 2453 patients have been identified as deserving to receive Rs 5 lakhs, along with 1729 to get Rs 3 lakhs and the families of diseased Rs 5 lakhs. In spite of assuring that this will be done by 2012 March 31st, the Government has reached the first installment only to 1613 people in 11 Panchayats. We know that more than 11 Panchayats are affected by the poisoning. Even today children are being born with severe physical and mental illnesses. There has been no medical camp in the area since 2011 December. Are we not just in feeling the terrible pain of neglect and injustice? Please do start by writing to the Chief Minister of Kerala to make sufficient budgetary allocation to support us through these trying times. Hoping you will stand by us in this struggle for a toxic free, safe world, Sisters from Kasargod March 5, 2013
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Kanaka Maoli, Port Charlotte, FL, United States9 months ago
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