According to the members, around 200-300 persons have been hospitalised in the past two months after exposure to deadly pesticides. Six deaths have occurred in three districts of Tamil Nadu. “After instances of deaths and large scale hospitalisations due to pesticide exposure in Vidarbha and later in Telangana, the menace is now surfacing in TN,” points K Balakrishnan of Swaraj Abhiyan.
The team met with affected families and also met the concerned government officials between November 4-6.
According to the team’s findings, out of the six deaths reported in three districts, Monocrotophos was a common pesticide in five of them. “This is a harmful chemical and is banned in 46 countries. However, it is available in India,” said Kavitha Kuruganti of ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture). She further added that the neighbouring state of Kerala has stopped the sale of these deadly pesticides, TN should follow the same.
The team also wants affected families to be compensated. “Many families have been rendered support-les due to these occupational poisoning. Many of them had to incur unaffordable medical expenses. We demand that the state government take responsibility for this and immediately pay an ex-gratia amount of at least Rs 10L for families where a death took place and Rs 2L where a person has been hospitalised,” said Saravanan of PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties).
They also want large-scale awareness campaigns on the ill-effects of pesticides, symptoms of pesticides poisoning as well as ecological alternatives that can adopted by farmers should be run by the government.
They team wants the pesticides industry held accountable. They should not only be stopped from selling, but also be made to pay compensation to the victim households while Illegal use of herbicides like glyphosate must be banned public authorities who failed to discharge their duties adequately must be held liable.