Over 100 people from the northern most parts of Kerala gathered in the state capital on Tuesday not to celebrate Republic Day but to protest against the republic, represented by the state government.
Around 110 endosulfan-affected people from 11 gram panchayats have launched an indefinite hunger strike, to protest against the state government’s failure to deliver on its promises. The strike was inaugurated by Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan and leaders from both CPI (M) and BJP have visited the protesters.
“They said they will give Rs 5 lakh to each family. No promise has been met yet. We can’t go for work leaving these children alone at home. How can we meet the expenses for their treatment and necessities?” Shobana N, one of the leaders of the hunger strike told The News Minute.
The promise she is referring to was one of several made by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in 2014 under pressure from numerous strikes and protests. The government has assured all affected families that they would be rehabilitated in accordance with the directions of the Kerala State Human Rights Commission including the waiver of bank loans.
Shobhana said that in the absence of financial aid, families continued to run from pillar to post for medical treatment. “There is no hospital in the district which gives proper treatment to these victimized children. There nobody to listen to our complaints,” she says.
According to a statement from the Chief Minister’s office, the UDF government had disbursed Rs 150.71 crore to the victims.
Shobana however, says that none of families had received the full amount. "They just gave one fourth of the announced amount to each family," she said.
Oommen Chandy had alleged that Achuthanandan who inaugurated the strike had done nothing for the welfare of the victims during his tenure.
All pictures by Sreekesh Raveendran Nair