New Delhi : Activists and survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Union Carbide chemical disaster, called off their week-long hunger strike following a meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh here on Monday.
The Bhopal gas tragedy victims said that Dr Singh assured to take welfare measures required by them.
“We have decided to call off our hunger strike today as the Prime Minister has promised to meet four of the six demands,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, spokesman for the protestors.
A group of victims of the 1984 gas tragedy, which had been on hunger strike since April 11, have asked for Dow chemicals to clean up the site. They also want the Government of India to blacklist Dow till then.
The activists are also demanding free medical treatment for those still affected, mainly children and people who drink contaminated water, besides setting up of a monument in Bhopal for the victims of the 1984 gas tragedy.
Earlier last month, the survivors, including some women and children, joined by human rights and environmental activists, had come here after completing an 800-kilometer-long ‘Padayatra’ (foot march) to submit their six-point charter to the Prime Minister.
The survivors, under the aegis of four organizations, including ‘Bhopal Group for Information and Action’, ‘Bhopal Ki Awaaz’ (Voice of Bhopal), ‘Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karamachari Sangh’ and ‘Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha’, were are demanding that the government provide them with medical rehabilitation, clean water, livelihoods, pension, environmental remediation, punishment for the guilty and a Bhopal Gas Victims memorial.
In December 1984, toxic gas leaked from a pesticide plant in Bhopal owned by Union Carbide in Bhopal, killing 3,800 people almost immediately. Thousands more were maimed for life.
Union Carbide in 1984 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.
Twenty-one years on, thousands of victims of the tragedy are still battling deadly diseases. 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.
The Union Carbide, after a protracted legal battle, paid 470 million dollars to the Government in a settlement reached in 1989. The victims, on an average, received 25,000 rupees (about 555 dollars) in case of illness and 100,000 rupees (about 2217 dollars) or so in case of a death in the family.