Thiruvananthapuram: Health minister KK Shailaja has criticised the hunger strike staged by endosulfan victims in front of the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. 

Minister said in a press meet that the government had considered all their demands and it is not right for others to stage a protest with endosulfan-affected children. This comment comes despite the protesters claim that none of the Rs 50 crore slated for treatment of victims has made it in to the hands of the victims.

"I don't know why they are exhibiting their children in the protest, can't understand what their motive is while doing so," said Shailaja.

The victims from Kasaragod, Kerala, began an indefinite fast in front of the secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram, on January 30. The main demand of theirs is speedy disbursal of compensation and rehabilitation. 

Shailaja also added that "the government had accepted the demands of the protestors and exhibiting the affected children for the protest is not a right practice to do."

The victims earlier had staged many rallies, sit-in protests and hunger strikes in the state capital. In the years 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018, the victims protested to seek the attention of the ruling government.

People in Kasaragod district were exposed to the insecticide endosulfan between the year 1975 and 2000. It is alleged that the public sector plantation corporation of Kerala sprayed the chemical aerially on its 12,000 acre of cashew estates.

More than 1,000 people died then.  Since then, hundreds of children were born with congenital disabilities, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, diseases of the nervous system and severe physical and mental disabilities.

The Plantation Corporation of Kerala stopped spraying endosulfan in 2001, but its impact is still being felt in Kasargod – babies continue to be born with genetic disorders and physical deformities. This is why environmental activists call it the biggest pesticide tragedy in India.

"In the 2018 Kerala budget, finance minister Thomas Isaac announced Rs 50 crore for endosulfan victims, but none has received the money from the government so far. We don't have any hope in the new budget too. We are planning to use the Right to Information Act to find out where the money has gone," said social activist Daya Bai.