Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan Tuesday hit out at central Minister of State for Agriculture KV Thomas for giving a clean chit to a pesticide that has killed over 200 people in Kasargod district.
Achuthanandan told MPs from the state that many people were also suffering on account of the use of pesticide endosulphan.
"It is really a shame that the central minister is batting for it. All of you should put up strong pressure on the central government to see that endosulphan is banned," he said.
"It appears the central government is also batting for endosulphan. You should see that a special package should be announced for those who have become victims to its use," he added.
Thomas said in Kasargod Monday that several committees that looked into the use of endosulphan at the estates owned by the state-owned Plantation Corp could not link it with the reported deaths.
Incidents of children born with neurobehavioural disorders, congenital malformations and other abnormalities have been reported in around a dozen panchayats in the district.
Shahida Kamal, a Congress leader who lost the Kasargod Lok Sabha seat in May 2009, said it was unfortunate that Thomas made such a statement.
"I have seen with my own eyes the tragedy in the worst-affected panchayats in Kasargod. It is pathetic. I feel the minister`s statement was wrong," she said.
The Plantation Corporation began aerial spraying of the pesticide in its plantations across 15 panchayats in the district since the late 1970s, and this continued till 2001.
Mohana Kumar, a doctor who treats victims of the pesticide, said he was disappointed by the minister`s statement.
Even almost after a decade since the pesticide was last sprayed, the ill-effects persist.
Studies have also proved that the incidence of bone deformities, infertility, mental retardation and congenital heart diseases in the panchayats were 10 times more than elsewhere in the state.
Environmentalist CR Neelakandan said if the minister had visited the affected areas, his opinions would have been different.