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Lack of medical facilities hits plantation workers

Staff Reporter

KASARAGOD P: lantation workers, most of whom had been in close contact with the pesticide endosulfan till its spraying was discontinued four years ago, lack medical facilities to diagnose and treat diseases that may have been afflicted with on account of their exposure to endosulfan. The leaders of the trade unions of employees have complained about the delay in the reimbursement of medical expenses.

According to estimates, as many as 21,800 persons, comprising casual, contract and permanent employees are working in the various plantations in the district, including private ones and the three plantations of the Plantation Corporation, Kerala (PCK) viz. Rajapuram, Kasaragod and Cheemeni.

The workers had been spraying Endosulfan all these years without any protective device. During that time, the workers were unaware of the health hazards posed by the pesticide. The absence of a full-time pharmacist in the local office of the Plantation Corporation has been causing undue delay in reimbursement of medical expenses.

The PCK, it seems, does not have medical facilities exclusively for its workers. The hospital of the PCK in Periya was opened in 2001 but was closed down after two months. But, for now, the workers want the PCK to provide compensation to the endosulfan-afflicted employees.

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