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38 years of Bhopal gas tragedy: Survivors highlight promises broken by govt

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Senior Correspondent

On the eve of the 38th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, leaders of five survivors’ organizations have expressed hope that the state government will fulfill its promises of presenting correct figures of death and health damage
caused by the disaster in the curative petition before the Supreme Court.

They announced in a press conference that on December 3, they will be holding a rally at Jantar Mantar on the issue of additional compensation for the disaster from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.

Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, a trade union of women survivors of the disaster, said “Recently on November 17, the Principal Secretary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation of the state government assured us that the state government will present correct figures of death in the Supreme Court and also state that the victims suffered permanent and not temporary injury. As a similar promise was made at the 27th anniversary of the disaster without action matching words, we will remain apprehensive till it is actually done”

With regard to other broken promises of the state government, Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha, said, “At the 36th Anniversary of the disaster, the Chief Minister had promised lifelong pension to all women widowed by the gas disaster.

Yet, as per official records 569 women widowed by the disaster have not received any pension so far.” He said “If the state government breaks its promise of presenting correct figures of death and health damage it will be misleading the apex court by its act of omission.”

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action pointed out the state government’s broken promise of 2010 of inviting global tenders for remediation of the contaminated lands near Union Carbide’s abandoned factory. “11 years back the state government promised to set up an expert panel to assess the environmental damage caused by Union Carbide and Dow Chemical and seek compensation from them. Since then the government has not done anything in this direction. The victims of the gas disaster can receive just compensation only if the state government presents correct figures of damage".

“On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the disaster, the state government had committed itself to setting up a Special Cell for close monitoring of all legal proceedings related to the Bhopal disaster.” Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said “While the Special Cell remains to be set up till today, it is indeed frustrating to watch the state government’s counsel remaining quiet during the proceedings of the Curative Petition last month.” 

“We hope during the hearing on January 10, the state government’s counsel will argue for the revised figures of death and injury.” he added. Nousheen Khan of Children Against Dow – Carbide said “We are pained by the trail promises broken by the state government but we continue to hope that on this critical matter of securing legal rights to adequate compensation of the Bhopal survivors, the state government will deliver its promise.