Kerala, the southern state of India in the West Coast is known as “God’s Own Country” and Kasargod, the northern district of this state has a village called “Swarga” which literally means paradise.
The Plantation Corporation of Kerala started using pesticides in mid-seventies and the helicopter that came circling the villages with showers of pesticide was a curiosity for many villagers and all children. Deformed calves, disappearing honeybees, dying fowls and jackals provided the first warnings. Not long after, strange illness in men, women and children started happening. Many believed that the gods were angry and many had to pay the price of pesticide use with their own suffering and death. Shree Padre, journalist and farmer, local doctors and other farmer activists lead the struggle and provided clear facts and deductions through surveys, literature and recollection of their own experiences. The case was presented before the governments for action, which expectedly came late.
In 2001, the newly elected Chief Minister decided to suspend the use of the chemical. The pesticide manufacturers came out with denials and lobbying. In November of that year, the THANAL Conservation Action and Information Network formally requested Dr. Romeo Quijano to visit Kasargod and look into the question of whether or not endosulfan was the cause of health problems observed in the cashew nut plantation areas.
The following is the report of the fact-finding mission led by Dr. Quijano.