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Use of Endosulphan in Kasaragod distric, Kerala, India


Kasargod District is located in the southern part of India in Kerala State. This district is famous for its cashew plantation. Plantation Corporation of Kerala, a state government enterprise has cultivated cashew plant in the vast areas of this district. To protect this crop since the mid 1970s, the pesticide endosulfan has been widely used and aerially sprayed on cashew nut plantation covering several villages in the district [1].

The controversy for using the ‘endosulfan’ started emerging since the 1990s [2]. People residing in the villages near or within the plantation have felt that they are affected by different kinds of illnesses.

Villagers also observed that unique kinds of illness have started emerging among human and animals which was never seen before. Rumors have started that the aerial spraying of endosulfan on cashew plantations is main cause of abnormal cases of many alignments for example; cancer, skin disease, congenital deformities, sterility and other illnesses [1]. The side-effects of pesticide spray in cashew plantations are not restricted only in that district rather it was spread into the neighboring districts Karnataka, adjacent to Kasaragod [4].

As time passed, local activist groups convinced that the illness was being caused by ‘endosulfan’ - a very old off-patent pesticide of the organochlorine class [2]. Environmentalists as well as the various groups formed Anti-Endosulfan Committee to form a pressure group to ban Endosulphan. According to an estimate by Anti-Endosulfan Committee about 8,000-9,000 persons in Kasaragod district are affected due to the spraying of endosulfan in the cashew plantations. About 500 persons have lost their lives over the past decade owing to various diseases triggered by the large-scale use of pesticides in the district [4].

The matter is highly controversial one and according to some reports what really happened in Kasargod is not very clear. Some studies tried to correlate the occurrence of illness due to the endosulphan poisoning and other claim that the disease occurrence is normal and cannot be correlated with the spraying as endosulphan decay fast in warm Indian climate. These kinds of illness may not be due to Endosulphan alone [2].

UPDATE. There is an update to this case (while the origins of

the case are reported in full in Sunita Narain’s book of 2017).  On  31

January 2018, The Hindu reported,  that

a  leading social activist, Daya Bai,

said that the Kerala government was ignoring the sufferings of mothers and

children. This was when the victims of indiscriminate spraying of the pesticide

Endosulfan in Kasaragod district staged an agitation in January 2018, demanding

that the State government implement the Supreme Court order issued in January

2017 to disburse ₹5 lakh (less than 10,000 USD) as compensation to  victims on the “official list” within three


Basic Data

Name of conflict:Use of Endosulphan in Kasaragod distric, Kerala, India
State or province:Kerala
Location of conflict:District -Kasaragod
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Agro-toxics
Specific commodities:Chemical products

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Kasaragod Estate is located in Kasaragod District in Kerala. The estate is spread over 2190 Ha. It is famous for Cashew Plantation with high yielding varieties and are being scientifically managed [5]. The estate has 113 workers, 18 staff and 6 officer as employees. Endosulfan was sprayed in Kerala, on two days each year on cashew plantations from a helicopter. The formulation that was sprayed contained about 0.05-0.1 per cent of endosulfan [2]. Endosulfan is considered as Persistent organic Pollutant (PoP) in ‘Stockholm Convention’ held in Geneva on 29th April, 2011.

A study by Centre for Science and Environment in 2001 in the area after the spraying was stopped also found the presence of endosulfan in humans, water bodies and soil.

The government estimates 710 people had died due to ill effects of aerial spraying of Endosulfan in cashew plantations in 4,696 hectares in the northern district from 1976 to 2000. However, the activists estimated that the death perhaps is much more. In another claim children are being born even now with genetic defects [4].

Project area:4,696
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1976
Company names or state enterprises:The Plantation Corporation of Kerala Ltd from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Kerala
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Anti-Endosulfan Committee, Democratic Youth Federation of India (Kerala wing), Endosulfan Apamaana Vimochana Samiti, Endosulfan-affected Peoples' Front, Pesticide Action Network, Thanal campaigning, Endosulfan Peeditha Janakeeya Munnani

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of alternatives:Anti-endosulfan activists protest to compensate the victims and also a total ban on the pesticide. They organized protest demonstration, strikes, and other means to lodge their demands for an end to the spraying of endosulfan in Kasaragod district. They are demanding an immediate intervention to ensure a complete stoppage of pesticide usage and advocate for the organic farming [3] [4].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:A global ban on endosulfan was imposed in Stockholm Convention in Geneva is mainly promoted by the incidences in Karsagod. Environmental groups such as Pesticide Action Network and Thanal has campaigned globally with horror-inducing pictures of the endosulphan effect on the human lives and environment [2]
Kerala Government frequently assured medical as well as financial helps for the victims but that promises had not been kept so far. The National Human Rights Commission's direction in 2010 to the central and state governments to take urgent steps to arrange treatment facilities and adequate financial assistance to Endosulfan victims was also not heeded to, he said [3]. The Anti-Endosulfan committee is demanding good compensation amounts for the families of each of those who died, and a family pension for the victims' families [4].
According to some opinion ‘Endosulfan issue is more of a political debate than a scientific one’. Many people got compensation due to diseases are not related to endosulfan. In January 2012, The Guardian published an article claiming that the data regarding the Kasaragod is an exaggeration [2]. Proper investigation by an independent agency with the association and causation of endosulphan use and the health impact was urgently required.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Biological Diversity Act, 2002

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

The air (prevention and control of pollution) act, 1981

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Down to Earth Report 2

Endosulfan Poisoning and the Struggle of the community in Kasaragod to regain life and the living land

Down to Earth Report


A critique of the epidemiological studies on health in allegedly endosulfan-affected areas in Kasaragod, Kerala

Sunita Narain, Conflict of Interest. My Journey through India’s Green Movement, Viking, Gurgaon. 2017

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[5]The Plantation Corporation of Kerala Ltd

[2] Kerala’s Endosulfan Tragedy

[3] Anti-endosulfan stir enters a new phase

[4] Kerala endosulfan victims allege 'state terrorism'

Government of INDIA recommended use of Endosulfan and available alternatives

Popular Articles About Endosulfan

[1] Story of Kasaragod

The Hindu, Endosulfan victims in the warpath, 31 Jan 2018.

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Endosulfan victim in Kasargod

Ban endosulfan sdpi kasaragod rally

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra, JNU University
Last update30/03/2018



Source: The Hindu 31 March 2018, S. Gomakumar.