KASARGOD: Anti-endosulfan activists have welcomed Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac’s Budget announcement of setting aside Rs 50 crore for the endosulfan package.
“We welcome the decision but we don’t yet know where the government is planning to use the fund,” said Ambalathara Kunhikrishnan of Endosulfan Peeditha Janakeeya Munnani.The organisation had held a one-day hunger strike in front of the Secretariat on January 30 demanding free treatment, compensation and rehabilitation for the victims.
They said the fund should be used for treatment, rehabilitation and writing off bank loans of the victims.
However, Majeshwaram MLA P B Abdul Razak said the money will be used to compensate the victims as per the order of the Supreme Court.
Last year, the Finance Minister had set aside only Rs 10 crore for endosulfan package. Endosulfan Cell deputy collector Abdul Rahim said the money was used to pay pension, medicine and rehabilitation for patients. “It is an ongoing project and the `50 crore this year will be used for similar purposes,” he said.
In the last budget, `5 crore was set aside for a rehabilitation centre for endosulfan victims at Muliyar. “The money was sanctioned just now. So the work is likely to start soon,” the deputy collector said.
The minister did not set aside any fund for the `25 crore rehabilitation centre this year. However, Issac in his Budget speech said the district administration could tap the `95 crore Kasargod Package for endosulfan projects.