Twenty years after he first showed signs of health ailments due to constant exposure to endosulfan, Narayana Vokalinga died on Saturday even as the Kerala government sought a nationwide ban on the toxic pesticide.
The 70-year-old former employee of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala, a government-owned body that aerially sprayed endosulfan on cashew plantations in the northern district of Kasargode, had developed uneasiness and swelling on his legs after years of work.
Following his health problems, he was forced to take premature retirement two decades ago.
On Saturday, KE Gangadharan, a member of the state human rights commission, visited Vokalinga's house as part of the panel's mission to assess the health of the people affected by the pesticide. Minutes after the official left, Vokalinga passed away.
His was one of the 200 cancer deaths reported from the area in the last 10 years.
The Kerala High Court had banned the dreaded pesticide in 2002 after indiscriminate use of the chemical in cashew plantations in Kasaragode for years caused chronic illnesses.
But despite its obvious adverse effects on human health, India strongly opposed a global ban on endosulfan at international forums earlier this year.
The state government has criticised India's stand and is planning to push for a countrywide ban at a meeting convened by the Centre on Tuesday.
"We will call for a nationwide ban on endosulfan," state forest minister Binoy Viswam said.
"We will also oppose the Centre's decision to set up another committee to study the plight of the victims as 17 expert committees have already studied the issue."