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March 26, 2007
It all began two years ago when hundreds of butterflies perished at Muthalamada in Palakkad district of Kerala. The butterflies’ holocaust was followed by the unusual death of cattle in the area. Then came reports that several children were mentally retarded
or crtically ill. The situation was somewhat akin to Swarga in Kasargod where similar cases were recorded after indiscriminate spraying of endosulfan on cashew plantations.
WPSI was the first to raise alarm following the death of butterflies. A health survey of residents within a five-km radius of Muthalamada, found that genetic disorders were prevalent in children born in the past five years and they were susceptible to cancer,
kidney trouble and respiratory ailments. All of them were living close to plantations that had been sprayed with endosulfan.
Though endosulfan is banned in Palakkad, it is clandestinely obtained from neighbouring towns in Tamil Nadu. To stop such clandestine sprayings, environmental groups are demanding a complete ban on endosulfan all over India. All the same, there is no conclusive
medical evidence that endosulfan is behind the maladies of the residents.
When it comes to environment and health of people, isn’t it time we acted on possible causes of harm rather than wait for conclusive evidence?
(Source: The Week, April 2, 2007)
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