TIMES OF INDIA
NEW DELHI: Over 400 survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy staged a sit-in outside the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers here and threatened to continue their protest indefinitely if their demand of concrete action to ensure livelihood and rehabilitation for the victims are not met.
The survivors, including the 37 who undertook a ‘padyatra’ from Bhopal to Delhi, began their dharna and said they would not leave until Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan, who is currently not in town, “clearly spelt out” his strategy to provide succour to them.
“Isn’t he responsible for clearing up that chemical dump? Isn’t it his duty to resolve this issue pending for the past 21 years?,” asked Shehzaadi, one of the victims of the Union Carbide gas leak.
“We met Paswan last year too. Then he had said he would send a team to investigate into the matter within next eight days. But nothing has happened so far. We have no jobs also. How can the government treat us like animals?” she asked.
The survivors were protesting outside the Union Ministry of Chemicals as it houses the Bhopal Cell and convenes the Group of Ministers set up on the issue of providing compensation to the gas tragedy victims…
The survivors claim the Union government is being cornered on the issue as 20 US Congresss members had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to take action against Union Carbide and its new owner Dow Chemicals.
“Apart from this, even the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Grievances had asked the government why Bhopal remains unresolved till now,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, an activist working with the survivors.
The victims assert they will present the memorandum of their six demands — livelihood, water, medical rehabilitation, environmental remediation — only to the Prime Minister.
The members of about 16 communities in and around the now-abandoned Union Carbide plant allege the water, land and air in the area remained contaminated causing deformities in infants and many other diseases.
They allege that despite the May 2004 Supreme Court order directing the Madhya Pradesh government to provide clean water, no relief has reached them as they are forced to drink and use toxic water.