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Endosulphan- The Killer is Back

Binu Mathew

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.

More Links:

Indian children in pesticide controversy

Letter from Journalist Shree Padre seeking help

Death from air: Tragedy of Padre

Pesticide menace spreads its tentacles to Karnataka