The Killer is Back
Padre is in the news again.
This small village in the northern most district of Kerala state was
getting into the front pages of newspapers in the state and India all
for the wrong reasons. Population of Padre is only 2,000. But this tiny
population have been suffering the ill effects of Endosulphan, an insecticide
sprayed aerially to protect the cashew nut plantation belonging to the
Kerala State Farming Corporation.
To prevent tea-mosquito attack,
the insecticide is sprayed through helicopter, thrice a year. The cashew
plantation is situated at hilltops or at a very high elevations everywhere.
As such, particles of insecticide is carried kilometres away by wind.
Even a week after the spray, the whole village contains a sickening
smell of the pesticides. The spraying have been going on there for 22
years. Endosulphan belongs to the organochlorine group of pesticides
which is highly toxic. It is absorbed through skin, mucosa and orally.
Resultant health hazards include skin diseases, asthma, neurological
problems, carcinoma, infertility, mental retardation, liver damage etc
In Padre, during the last 10 years, 53 people died due to cancer. 49
people developed mental illness. 38 people became mentally retarded
and 33 people epileptic and for 17 eye diseases. Studies conducted there
revealed conclusively that these were directly due to the aerial spraying
of the killer insecticide, endosulphan. Government of Kerala had banned
the aerial spraying of endosulphan. But now the department of agriculture
has come out with the circular that endosulphan may be distributed through
its local outlets with government subsidy.
The ban on aerial spraying was imposed after the findings of the commission
led by Dr. Achuthan and by the legislative fact finding team of Kerala
state assembly. Both these teams arrived there after years of protest
by villagers. The government of kerala imposed a five year ban on the
use of endosulphan in cashew plantations. Now with the new circular
the ban is as good as lifted.
Eventhough one of the worst
cases of deliberate pollution of air and water was going on in this
tiny hamlet for years, neither the state government nor the government
of India has not yet found it necessary to conduct a study. The data
we get is collected by Dr. Y. S. Mohankumar, who is practicing in this
village for years.
Indian children in pesticide
Letter from Journalist Shree
Padre seeking help
Death from air: Tragedy of
Pesticide menace spreads
its tentacles to Karnataka