Thiruvananthapuram: A fortnight after social activist Daya Bai began her indefinite hunger strike in front of the state secretariat here seeking justice for Endosulfan victims of Kasaragod district, the Kerala government on Sunday said it was ready to accept at least 90 per cent of her demands.
Daya Bai sat on a hunger strike on October 2 alleging that the state government had abandoned the victims. State ministers R Bindhu and Veena George today visited Daya Bai and assured her that all her demands would be met. After the talks, the social activist, however, said she will not back down from her strike unless a written assurance was received from the government.
”Earlier also, the government had given such assurances. But nothing materialised,” she told the ministers. Endosulfan, an organochlorine insecticide and acaricide were used widely on crops like cashew, cotton, tea, paddy, fruits and others until 2011 in Kerala, when the apex court banned its production and distribution. Endosulfan’s toxic effects on humans and related health hazards are well-known.
Daya Bai is on strike to ensure proper and better healthcare facilities in the Kasaragod district, where there are a maximum number of victims. Talking to reporters here, the Ministers said they have informed the social activist about the steps taken by the government to meet her demands.
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”The government was taking all steps to meet all the demands of the victims. Kasaragod medical college and a speciality hospital at Kanjangadu is nearing completion. New posts have been created at Kasaragod medical college. Funds have been allocated for new equipment, procurement has started,” Health minister Veena George said. Minister Bindhu said the state government will conduct the medical camp within two months and also agreed to open the day care centres as sought by Daya Bai.
The social activist was shifted to a hospital on October 4 after her health deteriorated. However, she resumed her satyagraha soon after her discharge. On October 8, Leader of Opposition, V D Satheesan, visited Daya Bai and pledged his support to her.
He attacked the Left government for not holding discussion with the 81-year-old even after six days of her hunger strike.
Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala also visited Daya Bai.
The social activist had sought to ensure better healthcare facilities in the Kasaragod district and also demanded that an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) be set up there.
She also demanded care centres in all grama panchayats, special medical camps for Endosulfan victims and provision of home-based care for bedridden patients.
The Supreme Court had on May 13 pulled up the Kerala government for not paying the compensation of Rs five lakh to each of the victims of the toxic pesticide Endosulfan and directed the Chief Secretary to hold monthly meetings and ensure necessary medical help to them.
The top court had in January 2017 directed the CPI(M)-led government to disburse compensation and rehabilitation package for endosulfan pesticide victims.
The court had ordered the government to provide a compensation of Rs five lakh each to the next of kin of people who died following exposure to the pesticide and those who became bedridden or mentally challenged. Earlier, the state government had prepared a list of 5,837 victims. A monthly pension was being given to 4,376 affected people.