Survivors of Bhopal Gas Disaster in the Lurch Even After 37 Years of Tragedy

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Rachna Dhingra, Rashida Bee, Shehzadi Bee, Nousheen Khan and other survivors at a joint Press conference on the eve of 37th Anniversary of Union Carbide disaster.

Over the years they have been denied justice and a life of dignity, say activists condemning state and Central governments for their apathy

Pervez Bari | Clarion India

BHOPAL – Addressing a Press Conference on the eve of 37th Anniversary of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, leaders of survivors’ organisations condemned the state and Central governments for denying justice and a life of dignity to the survivors. The organisations also shared information on their just concluded 37-day campaign: “37 Years – 37 Questions” directed at the state and Central governments.

It may be recalled here that on the fateful intervening night of December 2/3, 1984 nearly 40 tonnes of MIC and other lethal gases spewed out of the Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, exposing over 5,00,000 people to the toxic fumes. While 25,000-35,000 people have died since then and hundreds of thousands of persons have been maimed for life.

“We would like the world to know that 37 years after the World’s worst industrial disaster, justice remains denied to its survivors in Bhopal, India”, said Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh and a Goldman Environmental awardee.

“We regret to say that the reason, no Bhopali has received adequate compensation and none of the culprits have gone to jail for a minute till this day, is that our democratically elected governments continue to collude with the American corporations”, she added.

Shehzadi Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said: “The crowds in the hospitals, uninformed and indiscriminate prescription of potentially harmful medicines and the helplessness of the patients remain the same as that on the morning of the disaster. Today there are no standard treatment protocols for chronic diseases of the lungs, heart, kidneys and the endocrine, nervous and immune systems caused by Union Carbide’s gases. Because the government has stopped all research on the health impact of the disaster, it is Union Carbide alone that has all the medical information and the corporation is still claiming them to be trade secrets.”

“Instead of claiming compensation from Dow Chemical, USA, for the environmental damage caused due to contamination of soil and groundwater, the Madhya Pradesh government is planning to build a memorial on top of a Global toxic hotspot to help the corporation escape its legal liabilities in Bhopal”, said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action.

Nousheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide said: “The state and Central governments have failed the generation born to half million survivors after the disaster. Scientific studies published in international peer reviewed journals show that the health of the children born after the disaster to gas exposed parents is indeed impacted. Tens of thousands of children had to drop out of school because their parents were affected by the disaster. Yet the governments have done next to nothing to seek compensation for them or to provide them with gainful employment.”

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