Bhopal Gas Tragedy Survivors Want More in Damages as Pandemic Reveals Permanent Injuries

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A poster bearing the name of The Dow Chemicals Company during a march by Bhopal gas disaster victims to commemorate the 30th anniversary in Bhopal. — AFP file photo

“It is a pity that it took a global pandemic to highlight the injustice meted out to the victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster”

Pervez Bari | Clarion India

BHOPAL — Four organisations of survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster have demanded that Union Carbide and its owner Dow Chemical pay additional compensation for the long-term injuries caused to the gas-exposed people as evidenced in the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, the organisations presented official records which showed that the covid-19 death rate in the gas-exposed population was 6.5 times more than that of the non-gas-exposed population of the Bhopal district.

“The pandemic has exposed the official lie that 93% of those exposed to Union Carbide’s poisonous gases had only temporary injuries”, said Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh. “We have official records that show that the gas-exposed population, that is 17% of the district’s population of 2.8 million, has contributed to 56% of the covid-19 deaths in the district so far.

“It is time the Indian government presented these and other hospital records before the Supreme Court that is yet to hear the Curative Petition for additional compensation for damage caused by the December 1984 disaster”, said Nawab Khan, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action said that Union Carbide’s own documents stated that the injuries caused by exposure to Methyl Isocyanate were permanent in nature, and yet, more than 90% of the exposed people had been paid only 500 US dollars compensation for temporary injuries.

“It is a pity that it took a global pandemic to highlight the injustice meted out to the victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster”, she said.

“Dow Chemical has used the pandemic to cut thousands of jobs and make more profit by producing hand sanitisers, but it looks the other way when the pandemic exposes the lasting damage its subsidiary caused in Bhopal. Dow Chemical continues to evade the pending civil, criminal and environmental liabilities of Union Carbide in Bhopal”, said Nausheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide.

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