Thaindian.com, May 5, 2008
New Delhi(IANS): Expressing solidarity with the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, French author and activist Dominique Lapierre has said the children growing up in the affected area are drinking “poisoned water”. After visiting the survivors who were protesting near Jantar Mantar here Sunday evening, Lapierre has requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to listen to their problems.
“I have myself drunk a glass of the poisoned water, and I suffered an immediate skin rash and throat irritation. This is what the Bhopal children are today condemned to drink,” he said in a statement Monday.
Lapierre, who has co-authored “Five Minutes Past Midnight in Bhopal”, has donated the royalty from the book to a charity clinic that is providing health care to the survivors and their children.
On the night of Dec 3, 1984, a Union Carbide subsidiary pesticide plant in Bhopal accidentally released 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas, killing approximately 3,800 people.
The incident, known as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, left hundreds of thousands suffering from various diseases after chronic exposure. Contaminated groundwater around the plant area still continues to infect people with various ailments ranging from skin problems to birth defects.
“I have given five years of my life to tell the story of the Bhopal disaster and meet its victims. This is a very precious cause close to my heart. I am sure that in his generosity, Dr. (Manmohan) Singh will accept to receive those heroic people of Bhopal fighting for their right to live with dignity,” Lapierre said.
Nearly 50 survivors, their children, and activists working for them have been protesting here for the past 39 days.