Endosulfan is widely used in quantities exceeding 1,000 KL in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. Kerala has traditionally used very little Endosulfan, in comparison only a reported 550 litres. Yet, no health incidences have been reported in the former listed regions. Even in Kerala, the Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) stopped aerial-spraying way back in 2000. When it was practiced, it was done one to two times a year by spraying the equivalent of 300 ml—just about a glassful of the pesticide per acre.
- In an article titled, ‘Proxy Battle over Endosulfan,’ Sharad Joshi, founder of Shetkari Sanghatana and former Rajya Sabha MP wrote, “in the incidents reported from certain villages in Kasargod district, no conclusive evidence has been produced to show that the diseases were linked to Endosulfan and nothing else. An independent study demonstrates that the symptoms in reported cases correspond to those of handi godu (a disease) attributed to chronic inbreeding in the region.”
Common sense says that if you wanted to conduct a study on the effects on Endosulfan, you would conduct it in a region which is known to use substantial quantities of the pesticide as opposed to one that barely uses it. Did Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) know about the prevalence of handi-godu disease in the region when they planned to announce that the local disorders are caused by Endosulfan? If yes, what was their motive?
- According to an article, ‘Kerala’s Pesticide Puzzle,’ that appeared in Indian Express, Mumbai and New Delhi editions on January 30, 2011, “Jagadeesh, 40, from a village under the Enmakaje panchayat, is an Endosulfan victim in government records – diagnosed with mental retardation and epilepsy. He was born in 1970, at least 10 years before the first spraying of Endosulfan and even before the trial run began in 1977–78. That he wasn’t enrolled in primary school at the age of six indicates his congenital problems preceded the spraying. His four younger siblings are all married with children who are in good health. Jagadeesh was first taken for treatment only 15 years ago, when the Endosulfan issue erupted.”
This note reveals much about the claimed role of Endosulfan in the suffering of the locals. As long as there will be a belief that Endosulfan is the cause of the disorders in Kasargod, no number of government studies clearing Endosulfan will convince the masses. The government must look into handi godu disorder itself—find its root cause, treat it and make relevant efforts to restrict its spread since it is believed to be genetic. This will not only benefit those suffering, but also vindicate a highly beneficial generic pesticide that has been a boon for Indian agriculture.