Daily India, January 17, 2006
Bhopal, Jan 17 (ANI): Hundreds of victims of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy hit the streets here on Wednesday to protest against Tata group’s offer to clean up tons of toxic waste lying in an abandoned complex.
The protesters said they would shun Tata tea and salt, and request shopkeepers to stop its sale.
“The gas victims will take a pledge that they will shun (Tata) salt and tea. And this is the beginning; slowly we’ll boycott all the products. Shopkeepers are also pledging that they will not sell any of Ratan Tata’s products,” said Rasheeda, a victim.
Tata group chairman Ratan Tata’s reported efforts to find funds for the clean up of the waste haven’t gone too well with the victims who say it is an effort to let the company off its liability.
“This is not a proposal to clean up the toxic waste, but an effort to let the company off its responsibility. I think Ratan Tata is acting like Dow Chemical’s broker …he wants to save the company. But the clean up should be done by the company itself and the victims should also be provided with adequate compensation,” said Satinath Saranti, an activist of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
On the night of December 2, 1984, tonnes of a toxic gas leaked from a pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide in Bhopal, killing 3,800 people almost immediately. Thousands others were injured.
Union Carbide later accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a 100-million dollars charitable trust fund to build a hospital for victims. Later, Union Carbide was taken over by Dow Chemical.
The company also paid 470 million dollars to the Indian government in 1989 in a settlement reached after a protracted legal battle. The victims, on an average, received 25,000 rupees in case of illness and 100,000 rupees or so in case of a death in the family.
Doctors say many survivors — and some from a generation born after the disaster — still suffer from deep psychiatric disorders and stunted growth while thousands of women have severe gynaecological problems. (ANI)