Justice for Kasargod Endosulfan Victims
Dear Sisters & Brothers,
Hope this letter finds you all well. We, from Kasargod, 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? And 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. The helicopters sprayed indiscriminately on 4696 hectares of precious agricultural land the deadly poison meant to kill the tea mosquito. This began in 1978 with neither any warning to the people inhabiting the region or any awareness of its lethal impacts. The rest is NOT history. It lives on, in our present and future. We know that the water we drink, the air we breathe and the soil we grow our crops on 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 evidence 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 treading 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 often hopeless. But we sure 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. And all this owing to the 10 letter word- ENDOSULFAN. Each time one of you chews 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 gathered international attention and criticism. We have shown the world that we are still alive in this toxic world. The Signature Tree in our region has held the support of thousands of people. We know we are not alone. But we write requesting your support at this crucial stage. We are now engaged in an indefinite fast and Satyagraha in Kasargod, which has entered the 24th day today, demanding the following: Implement all the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission in full. To review the decision to give aid and help for just 5 years by the Government. To include all deserving people in the list which is now incomplete. Constitute a Tribunal for Compensation to the victims and Identification of the real culprits. The debt load of the affected people be taken by the Government. To design a scientific rehabilitation program for the affected region. To remove and detoxify the Endosulfan reserves still remaining in the godowns. 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 deceased, Rs 5 lakhs. Despite the assurance that this would 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 start by writing to the Chief Minister of Kerala to implement all the recommendations given by the National Human Rights Commission on 31st December, 2010. The struggle has entered the 24th day today with Sh A Mohan Kumar, environmentalist continuing the indefinite fast for the last 10 days. Before him Sh Subash Cheemeni, Dr Surendranath and Sh V Krishnan Pulloor had been on fast. There has been absolutely no response from the government till date. When you write, do demand immediate attention and sensitive action them.
Email the Hon CM of Kerala Shri Oommen Chandy at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Email the Chief Secretary Shri K Jose Cyriac at : firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
In solidarity and hope that you will stand by us in a struggle for a toxic free, safe world.
Contact: Sh Ambalathara Kunhikrishnan, Endosulfan Peeditha Jankiya Munani (Endosulfan Affected People’s Front), Kasargod (# 08547654654)