(Pervez Bari): The survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, world’s worst industrial catastrophe, led by the NGOs, (non-government organisations), working for their welfare would “knock on the Prime Minister’s office door” next month on December 3, the 28th anniversary of the disaster.
The announcement to this affect was made at a Press conference here on Monday by the representatives of the five NGOs namely Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karamchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Children Against Dow-Carbide and Bhopal Group for Information & Action. The organizations said that they have invited the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to join them in their attempt to meet the Prime Minister.
The organizations said that they would raise issues of adequate compensation for all gas victims, punishment of the corporations and its officials and medical, social and environmental rehabilitation of the survivors in their meeting with the Prime Minister.
The organizations have already sent letters to the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Chouhan and are awaiting their responses. In their letter to the Prime Minister the organizations have pointed out that they had met with the Chairman of Group of Minister on Bhopal in July this year but there has been no action on the demands raised by them. In their letter to the Chief Minister the organizations have reminded him of his unkept promise of accompanying a delegation of Bhopal survivor’s representatives to a meeting with the Prime Minister. They urged the Chief Minister to join them in drawing the attention of the Prime Minister when they visit New Delhi on 3rd December.
Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information & Action said that 94 per cent of the people exposed to Union Carbide’s toxic gases have been paid only Rs.25,000 as compensation as the government has wrongly categorized their injuries as temporary in nature. They pointed out that the curative petition filed by the Government of India supposedly to remedy the wrongful settlement of 1989 itself downplays the deaths and health damages caused by the disaster. According to them the government should be asking for $8.1 billion (Rs.44000 crores) in the curative petition instead of $1.2 billion (Rs.5500 crores) to ensure adequate compensation for all gas victims.
Ms Rachna Dhingra also of Bhopal Group for Information & Action said that both the governments at the centre and the state have failed to protect the legal rights of the victims vis-à-vis the American Corporations; the Union Carbide Corporation and Dow Chemical Company. She pointed out that recently British Petroleum (BP) was made to pay a fine of $4.5 billion (Rs.22000 crores) for the death of 11 American citizens in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The organizations asked both the governments to take a cue from this and demand rightful compensation for the people killed and maimed by the Union Carbide Corporation and Dow Chemical Company.
It may be recalled here that on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory had spewed poisonous Methyl Iso-cyanate gas whereby 3000 people had perished virtually instantly and over the years more than 25000 have kissed death and the sad saga is still continuing uninterruptedly. About half a million are suffering from the side effects of the poisonous gas and several thousand people have been maimed for life. (firstname.lastname@example.org)