Aarti Dhar, The Hindu, Apr 17, 2008
NEW DELHI: After walking for 38 days from Bhopal to reach New Delhi and staying a fortnight at Jantar Mantar here, Yasmin penned a letter in blood to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The aim: To get Dr. Singh meet gas leak victims and survivors and impress upon him the urgency to keep promises he made two years ago.
The blood for the letter written by the girl on Wednesday was purportedly drawn from the survivors of the 1984 disaster and those like Yasmin affected by groundwater contamination.
The letter is among those written by more than 150 school children from Delhi and Chennai. The children have urged Dr. Singh to spare an hour for the victims and keep his promises.
“Children of Bhopal have been victims of two of the world’s worst disasters — one caused by the Union Carbide’s toxic gases, and the other by the thousands of tonnes of toxic wastes abandoned by the company,” Yasmin told reporters. While more than 5,00,000 people were exposed to the poisonous gases, at least 25,000 — many of whom were not gas victims — were being poisoned by contaminated groundwater, she said.
In the years after the disaster, several scientists reported chromosomal aberrations among the gas-exposed people. Such changes in the genetic make-up could result in defects in future generations. In 1991, the Indian Council for Medical Research abruptly terminated research on the health effects on children born to parents after the disaster. This was despite the ICMR Principal Investigator recommending monitoring on the basis of findings that confirmed substantial growth problems in children.