At Padpu, Padre Village, Kasaragod District, Kerala, there is a ritual to honour the snake god. Many in the area believe that the ritual celebrates the origin of the Kodenkeri thodu (Stream) in a patch of sacred forests near Padre. The association between the venomous snake god and the stream is perhaps part of the village’s century’s old folklore. But for the last 3-4 decades, the people of Padre link the stream with a different sort of poison: Endosulfan. This lethal pesticide sprayed on the cashew plantations was absorbed in the soil and the stream, which severely scarring the lives of many along the cashew plantation area of Kasaragod District. Dear friends, we can tell you so many stories of the many dead,of strange diseases, strange to them, and invisible to the community.
Kasaragod is the northern most district in Kerala (India). The district had cashew plantations extends to about 5600 acres, spreading through habitations, water bodies and hills in about 11 village panchayaths. The plantations have been aerially spraying with the chemical pesticide Endosulfan since 1976, regularly till 2001. Following public out cry and the intervention from some courts and governments, Endosulfan spraying was stopped from 2003.
But the Health and Environmental hazards’ suffering by the people and nature due to the use of Endosulfan in Kasaragod District is a burning issue for the past few years and is still above. Hundreds of deaths and disorders reported. Alarmingly high levels of Endosulfan residues have been detected in the blood and breast milk of villagers in these area. In the affected areas, it is observed that birds and butterflies disappeared, fish and frogs in the ponds and streams found die. Wide spread ailments and serious health problems were reported.
Since 1996, popular agitations in the affected areas erupted against the apathy towards the victims of Endosulfan. These protests drew the attention of media and research and environmental organizations within the country and abroad. As a result of this popular uproar against the disasters, about various enquiry commissions were appointed by both State and Central Government to study the subject.
The Muncif Court of Hosdurg issued a stay on aerial spraying of the pesticide in Cashew Plantation area on a case filed by Smt. Leelakumari Amma a victim of this tragedy. The case was later taken to the Kerala High Court. These series of interventions culminated in the ban of the spraying of Endosulfan by Kerala High Court in 2002. By this time, saw some remarkable public efforts were made to address and highlight the issue. Major political parties and their senior leaders and NGOs were involved in the issue. Thus the Government of Kerala was forced to impose a ban on the use of Endosulfan in 2004. Consequently the Government of India banned the sale and use of Endosulfan in Kerala from December 2005.
At the sametime,on the other side, the Kasaragod District Panchayth (A Local Self Govt. Institution)made significant efforts to give a breath to the Endosulfan victims. District Panchayath provided relief and remedial measures,took leadership of public agitation and played the role as an organisational mediator to Compell the governments to involve in the issue. As an outbreak of these efforts, the Govt. Kerala appointed a special wing – Endosulfan Victims Relief and Remediation Cell – as recommended by the Kasaragod District Panchayat and alloted Rs.50 lakhs in its annual budget 2006-07. Also the and Govt. distributed another Rs.89 lakhs to the dependents of 178 deceased persons of Endosulfan tragedy. This amount is being spent by the Cell and District Panchayat for providing relief measures to the victims.
Now the Endosulfan Victims Relief & Remediation Cell and the District Panchayath brought out a vision document for a comprehensive relief and rebahiliation system for the Endosulfan affected community in Kasaragod. We request your esteemed co-operation to fullfill the proposals of this vision document.