Kasaragod: Seven years after losing their daughter to the tragic consequences of endosulfan, a laborer and his partially blind wife are knocking on every door to claim the solatium promised to them. The treatment meted out to the parents of Prajitha is a classic example of bureaucratic apathy in the face of personal tragedies.
Prajitha, a victim of the mindless aerial spraying of the deadly pesticide in a government-owned cashew plantation, died in May 2011 after a severe bout of epilepsy. The doctors at the Kasaragod general hospital refused to treat her. She died on the way to a private hospital.
The then health minister P K Sreemathi visited the family in their house at Bellur and offered the mourning family a solatium of Rs 2 lakh. The duty doctor at the general hospital was suspended after a department-level inquiry.
Prajitha's parents, Sasidhara and Jayanthi, who herself is among the hundreds of people affected by endosulfan, are yet to see the money. Burdened with existence, including the eye surgery of Jayanthi and the educational expenses of their two other children, the couple have been running from pillar to post for their due.
They went from government office to government office with a newspaper clipping about the minister's offer, until Manorama reported their plight. The media attention momentarily shook the officials from their slumber.
Sasidhara received an official letter informing him that the money has been released and requiring him to produce legal certificates proving his daughter's death and his status as her legal heir.
The laborer forsook his daily wages for days to obtain the certificates and submitted them to the authorities. The officials have now come up with some other explanation for denying the family their due. They told him point-blank that they could not pay him the money.