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Bhopal – Three decades of Struggle: Gas survivors begin indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar

New Delhi/Bhopal(TCN): Five women survivors of the ill-famous 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today began an indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar here along with a thousand survivors and their children sitting in a dharna, demanding adequate compensation to the victims of the country’s worst industrial disaster.

Bhopal – Three decades of Struggle: Gas survivors begin indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar

1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today began an indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar

Five Bhopal based organizations that are jointly leading the protest called on the Prime Minister and the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers to correct the errors of the previous government on the issue of compensation for the gas disaster. These five survivors of the leak of poisonous gases have decided to fast without water demanding additional compensation for all affected people.

On December 2-3, 1984, at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, a leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being exposed to the deadly gas. Warren Anderson was the chairman of the company, who recently died in the United States.

The survivors are demanding additional compensation for all affected people and revision of figures of death and lingering injury caused by the disaster 30 years ago. Relatives of several victims got only Rs 25000 as compensation and many of them have to still visit hospitals for the diseases caused by the disaster.

Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said, “In 2010 the Group of Ministers on Bhopal decided to pay additional compensation of Rs 1 lakh but left out as many as 93 % of the survivors without any scientific or legal basis. We are calling upon this government to correct that and pay additional compensation of Rs 1 lakh to all those affected by the disaster.”

Meanwhile in Bhopal, hundreds of survivors of the gas disaster in Bhopal gathered at Neelam Park on Sunday on their way to the trains for New Delhi for the protest action at Jantar Mantar.

Protesters are demanding a revision in disaster figures as ailment and other defects caused to the off springs of the victims have multiplied the effective number of victims, not yet counted in the official figures.

1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today began an indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar

“As per the decision of the GoM on Bhopal, the central government filed a Curative Petition seeking additional compensation from Union Carbide and its current owner Dow Chemical in December 2010. But the figures of death and extent of injury caused to the victims were grossly downplayed,” said Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha.

1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today began an indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar
President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Nawab Khan informed that the government’s apex research agency, the Indian Council of Medical Research had reported that over 12,000 people died due to the disaster till 1993, but when it came to seeking compensation from the American corporations the government said that the number of dead was only 5295.

Safreen Khan, founder of the Children Against Dow Carbide alleged that the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister had promised in writing that he would join the delegation for a meeting with the Prime Minister on the issue of compensation for the gas disaster, but there has been no progress.

The representatives of the five Bhopal based organizations working for the Bhopal gas victims had recently met the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Ananth Kumar in Bhopal. “Ananth Kumar showed much interest in understanding why and how so many survivors were being discriminated against,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

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