Daya Bai forces govt to conduct medical camp to identify endosulfan victims in 5 months

Dayabai during her hunger strike. Photo: Screengrab/Manorama News

Kasaragod: The state government said it will conduct a special medical camp to identify endosulfan victims in Kasaragod in five months. The government had not conducted such a camp for the past five years, because of which several children born with physical deformities and intellectual disabilities were denied free-of-cost specialty care given to endosulfan victims.

The government was forced to take the decision to conduct the special medical camp after 82-year-old social activist Daya Bai went on an indefinite hunger strike before the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram.

Daya Bai ended her hunger strike on the 18th day on Wednesday after the government gave in to four of her five demands related to health infrastructure in the Kasaragod district.

Minister for higher education R Bindu and minister for health and family welfare Veena George met Daya Bai around 1.30 pm and gave her the revised minutes of the talks they held on October 16.

To be sure, the government did not meet her for two weeks after she started her hunger strike. It sent the two ministers to meet Daya Bai on the 15th day of her hunger strike. But later, the government watered down the assurances the two ministers gave Daya Bai on October 16. The feisty activist refused to end her hunger strike unless the government put in writing exactly what it agreed to in the meeting.

Despite Daya Bai's resolve to continue with the hunger strike, the movement appeared shaky before the government's mulish stance.

But the next day senior CPM leader and Udma MLA C H Kunhambu saved the movement for the protesters with his statement on live television that "some people will never be satiated however much they get".

The insensitive comment on endosulfan victims invigorated the movement and protests sprung up in several places against the government.

On October 19, Wednesday, ministers Bindu and Veena George came to Daya Bai.

According to the statement they gave to Daya Bai, the government agreed to set up daycare centres for children with special needs in all the local bodies of the district.

In the October 16 minutes, the government said it will consider setting up daycare centres.

Also, in the previous minutes, the government did not set a time frame to conduct the special medical camp to identify endosulfan victims. This time, it said the camps would be conducted in five months.

The government had also agreed to set up a full-fledged neurology department with all requisite equipment and instruments in the District Hospital in Kanhangad in one year.

In the October 16 minutes, the government refused to set a time frame or name a hospital for the neurology department.

The government, however, did not commit to a deadline for opening the Women & Children Hospital in Kanhangad or completing the work on the Medical College Hospital at Ukkinadka in Badiadka grama panchayat.

The incomplete Women and Children Hospital was inaugurated by Veena George's predecessor K K Shailaja in February 2021 ahead of the election.

The only demand of Daya Bai that the government rejected outright was to consider Kasaragod for setting up the proposed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The chief minister had announced that AIIMS, as and when it is sanctioned, would come up at the KSIDC Industrial Growth Centre at Kinaloor in Kozhikode.

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