NEW DELHI, April 11 (Reuters) – Victims of the Bhopal industrial disaster went on an indefinite hunger strike in the Indian capital on Tuesday to demand a clean-up of toxic wastes left by the 1984 gas leak.
More than 3,500 people died inhaling the fumes from a pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide — now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co. — and at least 15,000 have died since from cancer and other diseases, according to official figures.
“If the government ignores our hunger strike then it will be clear it only wants to earn money from multinational companies and just wants us to die,” said Shehazadi Bee, one of three Bhopal victims taking part in the fast along with three campaigners in New Delhi.
They are demanding the Indian government force Dow Chemical Co. to clean up the disaster area in central India.
Activists say the actual death toll from post-disaster diseases is almost 33,000, and continues to rise as people living near the plant drink water poisoned by chemical waste.
They want a supply of clean piped water to be installed for families living in the vicinity of the factory.
Michigan-based Dow Chemical says it is not responsible for the clean-up as it never owned or operated the plant. The abandoned plant is now owned by the Madhya Pradesh state government.
Around 50 protestors took over a month to march the 800 km (500 miles) from Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh, to New Delhi, where they have held a sit-in protest for over 10 days.