Bhopal gas survivors observe candle light vigil

IANS, Dec 2, 2007
Bhopal, Dec 2 – Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy observed a candle light vigil here on the eve of the 23rd anniversary Monday of one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.
‘The vigil was organized also to highlight health threats in Bhopal, where chemical contaminants from the methyl isocyanate gas released on that day have been blamed for continuing problems such as breathing difficulties, cancer and birth defects,’ said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group of Information and Action (BGIA) working for the cause of the survivors.
Later, they also took out a torch rally through the gas-affected localities.
Earlier in the day, the survivors demanded setting up of a national commission to address their long-term medical issues.
The members of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic, which provides free medical care to survivors of the Dec 3 1984 gas tragedy, have highlighted the need for a 30-year specialised health plan.
‘The Bhopal gas tragedy victims will need specialized healthcare at least for next 30 years. Setting up a national commission focused on long term rehabilitation of the survivors and their next generation is a must,’ said Mohammed Ali Qaiser, a physician with the clinic, at a press conference.
The trust also said that their internationally published research had shown children born after the disaster are marked by the after effects of the gas, which leaked from the Union Carbide factory on that fateful day.
According to Qaiser, there were more than 100,000 chronically ill victims still in need of proper medical care.
A member of the steering committee of the trust, Mahendra Soni said that there are at least 20,000 patients registered for long-term care.
‘These include people affected by the gas leak and those poisoned due to ground water contamination near the abandoned factory.’
She pointed out that people suffering due to the injuries caused by contaminated ground water were being unfairly denied free medical care at the hospitals run by the state government and the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust.
Rana Lodi, administrator of the clinic, referred to the six reports by a Supreme Court appointed committee and expressed concern that the state government had implemented none of the recommendations.

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