Bhopal: Five organizations of the survivors of the Bhopal Union Carbide gas disaster have condemned the Indian government for failing to prepare for the Curative Petition that began to be heard in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. They demanded that the government use the three weeks till the next hearing to ensure that the actual damage caused by the disaster is factually represented before the five judge bench.
“The Solicitor General informed the five judges in the Supreme Court that he is still waiting for instructions from the government. In the 11 years since the petition was submitted no Indian government has yet filed a single additional argument to protect the legal rights of half a million Bhopal survivors. This government must show that it does in fact care about half a million of its most vulnerable citizens”, said Rashida Bee, Goldman Environmental Prize awardee and president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.
“The next hearing on this matter is scheduled for October 11” said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action. “We hope that the government uses the time to correct the figures of death and extent of injury caused by the disaster so that the judges are not misled about the actual damage caused by the disaster”.
“We are co-petitioners in this matter with the Indian government and despite our meagre resources our lawyer was there in court prepared with facts and arguments for compensation of 646 billion rupees from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. What is stopping the government from providing timely instructions to its lawyer?” said Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nisrashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha,
“In every matter concerning justice in the last 38 years, the survivors have had to push the government of the day to act against the criminal corporation and in this matter too we will not rest till justice is done”, said Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.
Nousheen Khan of Children Against Dow-Carbide expressed hope that the government will now find time to look at the several scientific studies that have documented health damage in children born to gas exposed parents and claim compensation on behalf of them. “In its present form, the government’s Curative Petition does not even mention the health damage to an entire generation born after the disaster”.
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.