Politicians are back in action, thanks to the forthcoming Assembly elections in Kerala and this time the agenda for Kerala State Assembly election is, ‘Ban Endosulfan’. But as always, ‘All talk no work’ is the strategy to execute this political agenda as well. Every political party has suddenly become concerned about the ill-effects of Endosulfan on human health and joined the race to show the people of Kasargod District their invaluable support. A scientific subject has now transformed into a political issue. Politicians of the state are leaving no stone unturned to encash this opportunity.
Please note that Endosulfan is being used across the globe for more than 50 years and before the Kasargod conundrum came into light, there has been no talk of health hazards due to this pesticide in India or anywhere else. It is interesting to note how the debate on Endosulfan has intensified in the last few months. For the first time, something other than the Plachimada issue has caught the fancy of politicians in Kerala. Obviously, politicians have a stand on issues that are hot-favourites among the media and create public frenzy. And all they have to do to achieve their objectives is to build on the havoc created by the NGOs in Kerala over the past few years. The fascinating thing here is while the scientific community is ridiculing the studies published by National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), these politician and NGOs are using the same as tools to persuade people to support a nationwide ban on Endosulfan.
Some of them went ahead and compared the Kasargod situation to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. What they did not consider is that if Kasargod was an ‘industrial disaster’ like Bhopal, then workers in Endosulfan manufacturing facilities would have reported health problems. On the contrary, these workers are condemning politicians and NGOs for exploiting the Kasargod situation for their vested interests and demanding an end to anti-Endosulfan campaigns immediately. They are also demanding a withdrawal of the misleading NIOH studies on Endosulfan.
On the other hand, politicians and NGOs are completely ignoring experts’ opinions regarding the fraudulent NIOH studies. They are deliberately ignoring facts that point towards serious scientific flaws in these studies. They have even criticised the Minister of Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Sharad Pawar for setting up a panel to study the Endosulfan issue. Insensitive towards farmer’s needs and its various socio-economic repercussions, these politicians and activists are blindly struggling for a total ban of Endosulfan in the country.
So far, politicians have declared relief packages, but made negligible efforts to find the actual cause of these health problems to keep a check on it or try to eradicate it. It is apparent from the poor conditions of these victims that only a portion of these relief packages have actually been handed to them. The state government is now demanding that the Central government provide a Rs 100-crore rehabilitation package to the alleged Endosulfan victims of Kasargod district. An approval to this effect will only give room to more publicity for these politicians. Vote bank politics in Kerala never had it so good.