Kasaragod: Until Karuppaiyah came face to face with the horrors of endosulfan poisoning in Kasaragod, little did he know that his daughter too was a victim of the unscientific and indiscriminate spraying of hazardous pesticides in his village in Tamil Nadu.
Karuppaiyah, since he was a 12-year-old boy, has engaged in spraying deadly insecticides such as endolusfan and endrin in the lush green orchards and fields at his native village of Varunthapatti near Thogamalai in Karur district, unaware of their ill-effects. It was destiny that brought him to Kasaragod, where hundreds of lives have been ruined by the alleged use of endosulfan.
His four-year-old daughter Lokapriya is a living testimony to the harmful effects of highly toxic organochlorine pesticides due to their indiscriminate use in Tamil Nadu’s farmlands. In and around Varuthapatti, there are about 40 children, including Lokapriya who suffer from serious handicaps and severe deformities.
Karuppaiyah was in for a shock after witnessing the havoc unleashed by the deadly chemical on several families in Kasaragod. “'People back home are ignorant about the threats posed by these toxic pesticides. Only after meeting hundreds of children in Kasaragod who live in utter misery, I realised how hazardous these pesticides are to our health and environment,” he says.
According to him, the situation in Thogamalai is more or less similar to that of the endosulfan-affected areas in Kasaragod.
“In our village, there are many children who are born with congenital abnormalities, neurological disorders and other diseases. There is a special school to impart education to these children. A doctor would visit the village once in a fortnight and provide medicines. Most of the families of the affected children are unaware of the hazards of the excessive use of pesticides or the looming danger. Most of them believe that their misery is because of their fate and that they can do nothing about it,” he says.
Karuppaiyah arrived in Kasaragod in search of a job after he was forced to sell of his agriculture land to meet the treatment expenses of his daughter. He is currently engaged in road-digging works for laying pipelines under the Jalanidhi rural water supply scheme at Belur, one of the villages that bore the brunt of the endosulfan tragedy. Twice a month, Lokapriya’s grandmother would take her to the doctor at Thogamalai.
“My daughter did not have any issues in the first few days after the birth. But after that, she started suffering from epileptic fits and muscular weakness. Now she has cerebral palsy. Most of the children I met in Kasaragod had similar symptoms before being diagnosed with congenital abnormalities,” Karuppaiyah says.
Lokapriya’s plight is a haunting reminder of the tragedy of people falling prey to the noxious snares of pesticides and of human greed and corruption.
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