Kerala has uppermost literacy rate in the nation. But Education and lust to earn more have made Keralites fools. They have started clearing paddy fields and coconut farms and turned into cash crops such as rubber and cashew nuts. In the run to greater yield, Malayalees are using unethical and harmful pesticides in cashew plantations.
Now let’s visit a district in Kerala – Kasaragod, once known for its greenery today Kasaragod is haunted by diseases and tragedy. Thanks to hamlets of cashew plantations spread along the district. The diseases are side effects of Endosulfan a deadly pesticide sprayed in these plantations. The UNO classifies Endosulfan as highly dangerous insect killer and banned in 62 countries. Even despite the fact that Endosulfan is banned now, for 26 years, Kerala Government sprayed the deadly pesticide in government owned cashew plantations under Plantation Corporation of Kerala.
While about 500 deaths from 1995 have been officially acknowledged as related to the spraying of Endosulfan, unofficial estimates put the total number of deaths since the late seventies around 4000. The insect killer was sprayed aerially with in particular used helicopters. As the plantations are mostly in mountainous areas, the pesticide drains and gets washed down the slopes during rains into drinking water below. Consuming this water will result in diseases ranging from physical deformities, cancers, birth disorders and damages to brain and nervous system. During 2000-2001 the victims got huge media introduction and resulted in Study on the victims. The study of Endosulfan effects showed larger abnormality such as mental retardation, cancer, and infertility in the victims. But the pesticide and fertilizer industries were very fast to refuse the studies. Endosulfan is manufactured and distributed in India by Hindustan Fertilizers limited.
It’s clear that the usage of the Pesticide on the Kerala government owned cashew plantation was a result of a nexus between Government officials and Pesticide industries. In Kerala, all other cashew plantations are grown without pesticides. The Kerala government spends millions on Pesticides to increase yield and have disillusioned the productive land. India is the main producer of Endosulfan in the world and also the consumer. It’s not only Kerala facing the dilemma of Endosulfan, Recent reports show some parts of Karnataka too affected badly by the usage of Endosulfan Pesticide.
Even though the Kerala cashew plantations corporation has stopped up aerial spraying Endosulfan in Kasaragod instead they have started using a newer pesticide. Endosulfan has been banned for 2 years in Kerala but Kerala Government is discussing revoking the ban. People are still facing the side effects of Endosulfan in Kerala and Karnataka but the Indian Government has not yet banned the deadly chemical. The Pesticide is still used for cotton and Cashew plantations in many parts of the nation Karnataka, Punjab, Assam and Andhra Pradesh. India needs an effective chemical norm and should ratify a chemical & pesticide policy which would help people affected by chemical accidents & disasters; also stop usage of deadly pesticides for agriculture. Even during the Bhopal gas tragedy Government did nothing for the victims. The victims of Endosulfan also were turned down by the Government. It is clear that all these chemical disasters are due to ignorant and negligent policies from the Government.