Bhopal Gas Disaster Survivors Campaign for More Compensation

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Five organisations representing the survivors will hold a peaceful rally in New Delhi on the 38th Anniversary of the disaster on December 3 to make the Central and state governments honour their promises of additional compensation.

Pervez Bari | Clarion India

BHOPAL – A month-long campaign has been launched by the survivors of the infamous Union Carbide gas disaster of 1984, better known as the Bhopal gas tragedy, here. Their objective is to make Madhya Pradesh and Central governments honour the promises of additional compensation made before the 38th anniversary of the disaster.

The Bhopal gas tragedy was a chemical accident at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh considered the world’s worst industrial disaster in history.

Addressing a press conference five organisations representing the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster shared their plan to hold a peaceful rally in New Delhi on the occasion of the 38th Anniversary of the disaster on December 3, 2022.

“We are launching our campaign to remind the governments of the state and at the Centre of the promises made by them regarding additional compensation for the disaster. We will spend the month of November convincing the state government and lead a peaceful rally on December 3, at Jantar Mantar to remind the Central government of its promises,” said Ms Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh who was one of the 100 women to be conferred Women Achievers’ award by the President of India in 2016.

Questioning the state government’s inaction on the soon-to-be-heard curative petition for additional compensation, Balkrishna Namdeo, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha, said, “Why has our Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan not moved a finger on providing correct figures of death and the extent of injury to the Supreme Court when he had openly and clearly declared in 2011 that the state government agreed with the stand of the survivors’ organizations on the issue of additional compensation. He had even promised to join a delegation of survivors’ representatives to meet with the Prime Minister on this matter.”

Ms Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action presented copies of a letter written by the current Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January 2012 in which the official death count was made to be 15,342 and not 5295 as presented in the Curative Petition. “In his letter the Chief Minister had argued for Rs.5 lakh to be paid as compensation to each gas exposed person. What is stopping him from sending a similar letter to the present Prime Minister?” she asked.

Shahzadi Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha produced video evidence [Link] of the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers’ commitment to the representatives of the survivors’ organisations in 2014 on the matter of additional compensation. “More recently, the present Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers has assured our colleague, Rashida Bee, over the phone that he has understood our stand on the matter and will take steps in our support,” he said.

Ms Nausheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide said that the campaign in support of additional compensation of Rs Six lakh to each of the gas-exposed persons has gathered over 30 thousand signatures. “Everyday survivors are gathering at Neelam park to join the campaign to make the government upwardly revise the claim for additional compensation from the American companies from Rs. 96 billion to Rs. 646 billion.”

It may be recalled here that on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory, which has been abandoned since then, had spewed 40.000 tonnes of 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.

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