GULFNEWS.COM, MARCH 21, 2007
Bhopal: The representatives of the survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, who ended a 14-day hunger strike on Monday, plan a “public action” if the Madhya Pradesh Government fails to keep its promises.
“Public actions have been planned in India and abroad in April and May if the state government fails to honour its commitments. This would include indefinite fasts by supporters at the Indian embassy in Washington,” Rachna Dhingra, a member of the Bhopal Group of Information and Action (BGIA), told IANS.
The agitation, which many gas-survivors’ organisations had joined, ended on Monday only when the state government gave a written assurance that their demands would be met soon.
The survivors are demanding healthcare and economic rehabilitation for those affected by the toxic fumes that leaked from the now-defunct Union Carbide pesticide plant 22 years ago on December 2, 1984. Over 3,000 people died instantly and more than 15,000 affected people died later.
“The decision to end the fast and the 27-day sit-in was taken after the state government accepted key demands and district collector S.K. Mishra, authorised by the chief minister to look into our problems, handed over a written response to each of the demands raised by us,” said Rachna, who participated in the strike with five others.
The other participants in the strike were Rashida, who had lost six family members to cancer after they inhaled the noxious fumes, Guddi, Jabbar Khan, Shehazadi, all of whom were exposed to the toxic gases in 1984, and BGIA activist Satinath Sarangi.
The strike was part of a ‘Jeene Ka Haq’ (right to live) campaign, which began on February 20 to demand social support for the survivors and their families, safe drinking water and removal of hazardous waste from the plant site.
The leaders of various gas-survivors’ organisations want the state government to ensure that toxic waste is not allowed to contaminate surrounding areas and the survivors are provided safe drinking water, as directed by the Supreme Court. As per the agreement reached with the state government, immediate steps will be taken to fill vacant posts in hospitals meant for the affected and to improve the quality of medicines and facilities for investigations there.