Dump Dow, Bhopal kids tell NGO

Zubeda Hamid, Indian Express, December 17, 2008
CHENNAI: A group of children from Bhopal, suffering from disablities caused gas leak from Union Carbide in 1984, have appealed to a private trust here to disassociate itself from Dow Chemicals, which now owns the firm.
Adinath Jain Trust is holding a five-day camp to distribute Jaipur foots, prosthetic limbs, crutches and walkers free of cost to disabled people across the State.
The camp is sponsored by Dow, as part of its corporate social responsibiity initiative, on behalf of Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti, a Jaipur-based NGO.
On Tuesday, the Bhopal children, accompanied by local kids, met Mohan Jain, hononary secretary of the trust, at the camp.
A scene ensued when Jain insisted on deletion of pictures taken by the photographer of this newspaper of the Bhopal children meeting him. (He perhaps did not notice a volunteer who was with the children and shot photographs – which we carry here – on the sly). Jain also said he did not want any mention of the incident in the newspaper.
The children, alternately arguing and appealing, submitted a letter and showed Jain a scrapbook of photographs of survivors who 24 years after the tragedy were still suffering from the aftermath of the disaster.
“We appeal to you not associate with a company that has still not provided justice to the thousands affected in Bhopal,” said Meera Morey, a 28-year-old whose father died after battling years of illness following the gas leak.
Jain asked for government reports and medical studies supporting their claim. Shwetha Narayan of International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal promised to provide him with both.
Eight-year-old Suraj is less than three feet tall. He cannot walk or eat on his own and is mentally challenged as well. His mother has brought him here to consult Vidya Sagar, an NGO that works with physically challenged children.
Meera’s seven siblings suffer from debilitating lung disease and other illnesses. Her father was working as a road worker in front of the company when the gas leak occurred.
Jain said that if the reports were convincing, he would stop his association with Dow Chemicals. “This is the first time we have collaborated with them,” he said.

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