A Supreme Court bench of Justices Chandrachud and Surya Kant today pulled up the State of Kerala for not paying compensation to the victims of Endosulfan tragedy despite the court passing an order in 2017 directing the same.
The Supreme Court in January 2017 had passed a judgment directing State of Kerala to pay Rs 500 crores as compensation to over 5,000 persons who suffered from various deformities and health complications after using Endosulfan pesticides in the state.
Court had also asked the State to consider setting up a centre to provide lifelong medical treatment to all the victims.
The above directions were passed in a Public Interest Litigation petition filed by Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in 2012, which raised the issued pertaining to the adverse effects of Endosulfan.
When Court had mooted for a proposal to ban the pesticide, both, the Centre and Kerala, opposed the ban of the pesticide due to their effectiveness on pests. The Supreme Court banned the use of Endosulfan in 2012.
When the matter came up for hearing today, Court immediately questioned the counsel appearing for Kerala government as to why the compensation was not disbursed to all the victims despite the order of the court from 2017. The bench remarked, “Do they have to come to the court even to receive the compensation?”
The bench was informed that only 8 victims who have approached the court for the compensation have been paid Rs.5,00,000 each and others are yet to receive the compensation.
The bench was also miffed by the fact that despite five years having elapsed, the State had not come up with a proposal for medial support to the victims of the tragedy.
Court noted that a status report dated May 9, 2022 was been filed by Chief Secretary of Kerala and that the report indicates that in March a meeting was convened for for disbursing compensation.
Court said that from the affidavit it appeared that a team of officials from the health of revenue department have been asked to visit the home of 3704 victims to whom compensation is to be provided.
The bench noted that out of these 3704 people, 102 are bed ridden, 326 are mentally challenged while 738 people suffer from varying levels of health problems. Bench pointed out that 2966 people fall in the residual category.
Further, while taking note of the fact that the State government has now taken a decision to authorise the disbursal of an additional amount to provide compensation, the bench highlighted that an amount of Rs.5 lakhs has been disbursed only to 8 persons.
The bench remarked, “We fail to understand the logic of the government. There are large number of victims to whom no compensation has been provided.”
The bench stated that most of the victims are from marginalised segments of society and many victims are in a pitiable condition. The bench said that the State government has not come up with any proposal to provide continues medical treatment to the victims of the tragedy.
The bench, thus, issued directions to the Kerala Government to:
The court has directed an affidavit of compliance to be filed in the matter upon completion of the above directions.
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