Monday, March 27, 2006 (New Delhi/New York):
Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy, which is the world’s worst industrial disaster, arrived in the national capital seeking justice.
They began their 800-km walk from the Madhya Pradesh capital 35 days ago, with a six-point charter of demands for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
It’s been over two decades and their most basic demand for clean drinking water has still not been met.
Besides the 39 survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster, many people who still have to drink the water contaminated by toxic waste from the abandoned carbide factory are also a part of the march.
They want Dow Chemicals that now owns Union Carbide, to clean up the contamination left behind and pay for the environmental damage caused.
And they have resolved not to return to Bhopal till they get justice.
“It’s been 21 years and we are still waiting for clean water, for dignity. The Prime Minister must listen to our demands,” said Rashida Bi, Bhopal gas tragedy survivor.
They are also demanding that Dow Chemicals be blacklisted in India.
“We want that Dow should own up. They must clean up the area. People are still drinking poisoned water,” said Satinath Sarangi, Member, Group for Information and Action.
The protest march has stirred up outrage in the US as well, with support from American Congressmen who have issued a letter of protest to the Prime Minister.
The protestors plan to present Singh with their charter of demands by the end of this month.