Bhopal survivors demand "Right to Live", condemn heartless inaction of the BJP state government

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Bhopal ki Aawaaz

February 19, 2007
PRESS STATEMENT
Addressing a press conference on the eve of the anniversary of the 2006 Padayatra from Bhopal to Delhi, leaders of four organisations of survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal condemned the State Government’s inaction and announced their “Jeene kaa Haq” (Right to Live) campaign. The campaign will push for the resolution of long-pending demands, including health care, economic rehabilitation and social support for survivors and their families, and supply of safe water and removal of hazardous waste.
Survivors of the disaster and residents of water-contamination affected communities living near the abandoned Union Carbide factory will launch the campaign with a dharna (sit-in) at Roshanpura Square on 20 February, 2007 — the 1st anniversary of march from Bhopal to Delhi. Last year 55 survivors marched 800 kilometers on foot from Bhopal to New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister and press demands for relief and rehabilitation of Bhopal survivors and water-affected communities. After a 14-day dharna followed by a 7-day long hunger strike in New Delhi, the Prime Minister conceded to the demands of the Bhopal padayatris. A special Coordination Committee on Bhopal was set up with participation of senior officials from Central and State Governments, and representatives of survivors’ organisations.
Displaying copies of the CCB meeting minutes, leaders of the four organisations said the state government was blocking the implementation of the decisions of the CCB towards providing long awaited relief and rehabilitation to the Bhopal victims. The organisations said that repeated attempts to meet the Chief Minister since June 2006 have been futile, and several petitions on behalf of people poisoned by Union Carbide have gone unanswered. The current BJP Government has surpassed all previous Governments in terms of incompetence, corruption and apathy shown towards the plight of Carbide victims.
Reports of the Supreme Court Committee for Medical Monitoring have exposed the miserable state of health care of the survivors. The reports highlight the lack of specialists and doctors, standardised treatment protocols, quality medicines, diagnostic equipment and system of monitoring health status in the hospitals meant for gas victims. Survivors organisations said that the report of the state government’s Centre for Rehabilitation Studies clearly points out that people are falling ill due to ground water contamination. However, such people are denied free medical care at gas relief hospitals.
The five point demand charter of the survivors includes demands for economic rehabilitation and social support. At least 50,000 victims lost their jobs as a result of the disaster. Survivors’ organisations are demanding that at least 10,000 survivors should be gainfully employed in the Special Industrial Area in the next three months. 152 work sheds built at a cost of Rs. 8 Crores specially for employment of gas victims have been lying unused for more than 20 years, while families of survivors are forced to starve due to loss of livelihood.
Condemning the state government’s inhuman attitude towards the most vulnerable categories of victims, the organisations demanded a monthly pension of Rs 1,000 per month to gas affected families living below the poverty line, women widowed due to the disaster, gas victims over 60 years old without family support, families with children with toxic-induced congenital malformations and families where the bread earner has died or is too sick to work.
The leaders demanded that the Union Carbide factory and the toxic Solar Evaporation Ponds must be secured with compound walls and the hazardous wastes within its premises must be exported to an OECD country like United States for final disposal. They demanded that the state government must ensure availability of funds for relief and rehabilitation of people poisoned by Union Carbide at least for the next 30 years. Setting up of an office of the Coordination Committee and forming sub groups for supervision on official relief and rehabilitation initiatives also feature prominently in the list of demands of the “Jeene kaa Haq” campaign.
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
94256 88215
Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
93290 26319
Shahid Noor
Bhopal ki Aawaaz
98261 82226
Satinath Sarangi,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
98261 67369
Contact : House No. 60, Near Cold Storage, Union Carbide Road, Chhola, Bhopal
Please visit www.bhopal.net for more information on the campaign for justice in Bhopal

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