Many in Kerala still drink water containing endosulphan

Friday, November 12, 2010

WAYANAD - Almost a year after two samples of drinking water tested positive for the highly dangerous pesticide endosulphan, many in Mananthavady town in Kerala’s hilly district of Wayanad continue to drink the same water.

N. Prasanth, the sub-collector of Wayanad, said that last year seven samples of water were sent for testing to the Centre for Water Resources and Management, Kozhikode, after it looked muddy to the naked eye.

“Of the seven samples taken from various places in Mananthavady, six were found not potable, and of that two samples had traces of endosulphan. The situation today is the same and people there continue to drink water from the same source,” Prasanth told IANS.

The source of water for people in and around the town is water from Mananthavady river and the samples were taken from various places, including wells and a water treatment plant at Payyampallil.

Endosulphan is commonly used as a pesticide on cashew plantations, but there are no such crops in the area.

“It is rather baffling to note the presence of endosulphan even though there are no cashew plantations in this district. Even though the pesticide is banned in Kerala, since the main source of water is from the river, it could be flowing in from nearby Karnataka,” said Prasanth.

Endosulphan has become a major talking point in Kerala. On Thursday, Left MPs staged a protest in front of parliament in New Delhi to press for the need to ban endosulphan countrywide.

It has been a serious issue in Kasaragode for long after instances of children being born with neurobehavioral disorders, congenital malformation and other abnormalities in and around a dozen panchayats in the district.

While about 500 deaths in Kasaragode since 1995 have been officially acknowledged as related to the spraying of endosulphan, unofficial estimates put the total number of deaths since the late 1970s at around 4,000.

The issue last month made headlines after Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan lashed out at union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas for almost giving a clean chit to the use of endosulphan in Kasaragode.

Thomas, while inaugurating a seminar on coconuts in Kasaragode, opined that several committees had looked into the use of endosulphan at estates owned by the state-owned Plantation Corporation in Kasaragode and could not come to any concrete conclusions that its use had caused serious health issues.

Taking serious note of the issue, Achuthanandan has called an all-party leaders meeting in the capital city Nov 18 to discuss issues related to endosulphan.

On Nov 20, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is also reaching the state capital to discuss the issue.

The Kerala High Court Thursday, acting on a petition filed for forming a tribunal to assess the damage caused by endosulphan, asked for notices to be served on companies that market the pesticide which is banned in the state.

Filed under: Environment

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