Aisha, 73, helps her son Shafi, a 28-year-old endosulfan victim, sit down. The only word he says is `Muma'. Although he cannot communicate, he knows when his mother is not close by. Aisha says there is not enough food in the house and they receive no financial support except a monthly compensation pension of Rs 2,000 ($40)
Poisoned Earth in
God’s Own Country
British photographer Peter Caton and writer Beatriz
Lopez visit Kasargod district in north Kerala, whose
residents have been plagued by the spraying of endosulfan
pesticide, the use of which was recently banned by the
Supreme Court of India. From families completely breaking
down to pushing innocents into the dark well
of irrecoverable diseases, the endosulfan menace
has often been described as equally
devastating as the Bhopal gas tragedy
Apanorama of rolling hills distinguishes the landscape of Kasargod, a northern district of Kerala. With fertile land and an abundance of water, the cashew industry once flourished amid dense vegetation, red earth and coconut palms.
These forested valleys are home to rural communities still living off
the land, such as Mamatha’s family, who collect betel-nuts, as their
main source of income.
The household of six adult siblings and their elderly father live in a
small, overcrowded cottage, which they may have to sell to fund a
series of operations that will remove the tumour distorting
Mamatha’s face. Mamatha is a confirmed endosulfan poisoning vic-
Endosulfan, an organochlorine insecticide, acts as a contact poison
for a wide variety of insects and mites and has been used extensive-
ly worldwide on food crops like tea, fruits, vegetables and grains.
Famed for its capacity to increase agricultural productivity, endo-
sulfan has been officially banned in Kerala for 10 years. For a period
of 25 years that led to the state ban, indiscriminate aerial spraying of
cashew plantations contaminated the soil, water sources, wildlife
and the communities of Kasaragod district.
Already banned in over 80 countries, 127 rep-
resented governments agreed on a worldwide
ban at the Stockholm Convention on Persistent M8 ;