What endosulfan did to these children in Kerala's Kasaragod

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Kasaragod:  Twelve-year-old Badusha can't run; he can't play like other children.

Permanently bedridden, this young boy is symbolic of what many allege are the effects of endosulfan, a pesticide used by farmers in India.

He is a living testimony of the harmful effects of endosulfan in Kasaragod.

This is a condition of the children in a state whose tourism tag line says 'God's own country', but tragically the children of this state have been neglected by the successive governments.

"Whenever VIPs and ministers come to Kasaragod, we take him there asking for help. All of them just listen to our requests for help. But they do nothing," lamented Nabeesa, Badusha's aunt.

NDTV travelled to Karadukka, one of the remote villages in Kasaragod. We met 20-year-old Mohammad Ashif, another victim of endosulfan. He cannot move by himself and has to be regularly taken to hospital for treatment, something his parents cannot afford.

"He suffers from epilepsy, muscular weakness. So we are giving him a lot of medicines. We have to spend a lot on that," rued Tahira, mother of Mohd Ashif.

"There is no cure for these congenital anomalies. The most important congenital anomalies are those associated with the brain, like mental retardation and also cerebral palsy. And this is due to the exposure of the parents of these children to endosulfan," said Jose D'cruz, District Medical Officer, Kasaragod.

At another village further north, 28-year-old Sujatha's growth stunted when she was four.

Before she was born, Sujatha's parents lived near cashew estates owned by the Plantation Corporation of Kerala.

Endosulfan was indiscriminately sprayed in those plantations spread over 2000 hectares in Kasaragod for over a decade since the late 1970s.

The result: over 4,000 people suffering its harmful effects even now.

"There are many mothers and children here who have traces of endosulfan in their body and their health is slowly degenerating," said Sundaran, father of Sujatha.

"Why is the Government of India not considering a ban? The life of these people in 11 panchayats itself is a testimonial to consider a ban," said Mohan Pulikodan, Co-ordinator, Endosulfan Victims Support Aid Group.

The Kerala Chief Minister is now actively pursuing a campaign to ban endosulfan but for now the Agriculture Ministry has said it cannot ban the fertilizer.

This, despite the fact that over 80 countries have made the use of endosulfan illegal.

Currently a convention in Geneva is debating if it should be banned worldwide.

Badusha, Ashif and Sujahata just hope the ban will take place so there are no others who have to suffer the way they do.

 

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