The large scale use of Endosulfan in the agriculture farms, particularly in the ‘Mango City’ in Muthalamada for better yield cave lives in this border area of Chittur taluk with Tami Nadu. The symptoms of diseases found in Muthalamada area are similar to the ones found in Kasaragod where the deadly pesticide was once used in cashew farms. The easy availability of Endosulfan from across the border compounded the problem in this agriculture dominated area.
People living near the mango orchards at Muthalamada panchayat are facing a number of health problems due to the use of Endosulfan pesticide. Mango farms are concentrated from Govindapuram to Nemmara, all along the Thenmala region of Nelliampathy Hills. About 60 sq km in the region is under mango cultivation. In order to get more yields, the farmers and middlemen allegedly use a huge quantity of deadly pesticides.
A number of children died earlier and many are facing the same problems. Four of them are undergoing treatment, says S. Guruvayurappan, project coordinator of Wildlife Protection Society of India. Seven year old Soumya, daughter of Chandran and Rugmini of Banglamed, Muthalamada is affected with Cerebral Meninjaitis soon after her birth.
The family is living in the midst of Muthalamada `mango city’ for the last 15 years. Their son Saju (11) is born with low mental growth, eye sight and is unable to speak. Ten year old Sakthivel is affected with skin disease (Soriasis type). He was taken to Thrissur Medical College for treatment. Some oil massages were also done. But no relief yet. The family is living in Ambedkar Colony, Govindapuram in the border area. Eleven year old Sneha, daughter of Silomani, is also having low mental growth and breathing problems.
Ten year old Kirana, daughter of Kittu and Radhika is physically disabled since birth. She is not able to move and is confined to her bed though from outside she looks alright. They live in Cheerani Road in Kollengode Panchayat. Pesticide spraying is rampant in the Mango Orchards in the area. Endosulfan is easily available in the Muthalamada area from across the border; it is just 10 to 15 minutes' journey to the neighbouring Tamil Nadu. There is no mechanism to check smuggling of Endosulfan into Kerala.
A study conducted by National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) on the health hazards of Endosulfan spraying in Kasaragod in 2001 had found that the pesticide is the cause of a number of health problems among schoolchildren living in the exposed area. These children had significantly lower intelligence level and very high incidence of various sexual disorders.
The NIOH had found Endosulfan residues even after 10 months of spraying in the soil and water in the affected areas. Even blood samples of young children had deadly residues of the pesticide. In a memorandum submitted to the Environment Committee of the State Assembly during its visit to Muthalamada as back as in February, 2007 to study the problems of the use of Endosulfan, the Wildlife Protection Society sought promotion of organic farming and use of bio pest repellents and fertilizers.
Mr. Guruvayurappan,said a health survey jointly conducted by them along with Ecological Protection Group and Calicut University Education Centre in January 2006 at Muthalamada found that one-third of the 500 families living in the area are affected by deadly diseases such as cancer, mental disability, genetic disorders, TB and related respiratory disease, blindness, skin disease, etc.
The use of chemical pesticides did not also spare the animals and insects in the area. It resulted in massive death of butterflies, beetles, birds, monkeys, etc. The domestic animals such as cattle also became the victims of the deadly pesticide, he said.