29 March, 2006
A representative group of the Bhopal gas victims was assured all possible help by the Minister of Chemicals, Fertilizers and Steel, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan here this evening.
The delegation presented a charter of six demands to the Minister seeking relief for the sufferers of one of the world’s worst industrial disasters which happened on December 3,1984. A couple of thousand people had lost their lives in the tragedy which left thousands others crippled.
[Ed: Bhopal remains the world’s worst industrial disaster. At least 8,000 people were killed in the incident and its immediate aftermath, over half a million were injured, of whom many have since died of their injuries: the total death-toll attributable to the gas has by now climbed above 20,000. In the city today more than 120,000 people remain chronically ill. To which must be added the illnesses and deaths among a further 20,000 people who for years have been drinking water poisoned by chemicals seeping from Union Carbide’s abandoned factory. Figures verified by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.]
The delegation walked all the way from Bhopal to Delhi. It wanted a National Commission to be set up with necessary powers and funds for health care, medical research and social and economic rehabilitation of the victims of their children. Shri Paswan said that the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals would consult the concerned Central Ministries and Departments to do all that can be done for their relief. A Group of Ministers for the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster is already in place. The delegation urged the Minister to direct the present owner of the Union Carbide to clean up the plant site and expedite work to restore the local environment which was badly damaged in the disaster. Shri Paswan told the delegation that the Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals would soon discuss with the Madhya Pradesh Government the issues raised by them.