Families of damaged children lay siege to Gas Minister’s house

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*Press Statement*
*Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh*
*Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha*
*Bhopal Group for Information & Action*
November 14, 2007, Bhopal – Children of Bhopal whose health has been impaired due to poisons from Union Carbide today observed “Children’s Day” with a demonstration at the residence of the Principal Secretary, Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, M P Government, to highlight the injustice of lack of social security pensions for families with children with birth defects.
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Led by three organizations that are active on issues of the 1984 gas disaster and toxic contamination in the vicinity of the abandoned factory, hundreds of children including those born to gas exposed parents with birth defects chanted slogans on the failure of the State Government in providing social security to the victims.
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Mrs. Vinuta Lakhera, a gas victim from Kainchi Chhola and mother of 12 year old Jeet who had congenital heart disease (Ventricular Septal Defect with Fallot’s Tetralogy) stated that she was denied financial assistance for Jeet’s surgery despite appeals to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh.
Rashida Bee of the Chingari Trust that paid over Rs. one lakh for Jeet’s successful surgical treatment recently, said that there are close to two hundred children with congenital deformities who continue to be denied medical attention by the State Government. She pointed out that between 1992 and 1997, 14 children had received official assistance for heart surgery and 13 children received assistance in diagnosis for congenital brain anomalies. However, the programme, SPARC (Special Assistance to At Risk Children) was suddenly withdrawn in 1997 citing financial constraints.
According to a survey carried out by the Chingari Trust, there are an unusually large number of children with Cerebral Palsy in the communities affected by gas or contaminated ground water.
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The three organizations; Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information & Action have been demanding medical treatment and monthly pension of Rs. 1000/- for poison affected families who have children with birth defects.
The organizations pointed out that the State government spent a paltry sum of Rs. 3761/- per year per child orphaned due to the disaster from 1984 to 2000. They said that an amount of Rs. 49.72 Crores was allocated for social rehabilitation of victims of the disaster in 1986 for five years, yet in the last 21 years the State government has not spent the allocated amount. The organizations stated that there has been no expenditure by the State Government on social rehabilitation of Union Carbide’s victims for the last 13 years.
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The organizations stated that in addition to children with birth defects, thousands of widows and destitute victims are being denied social support pension by the State Government. They said in the last 23 years, the official administration of rehabilitation of victims of Union Carbide has been riddled with corruption, apathy and incompetence.
They said that the Chief Minister has not fulfilled any of the promises made to the organizations following their month long agitation in February – March this year. They alleged that Mr Padhyaya in his official capacity has not followed up with any of the decisions taken by the Coordination Committee on Bhopal set up under direction of the Prime Minister last year.
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Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
tel. 94265 88215
Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
tel. 93290 26319
Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
tel. 98261 67369
*Contact : House No. 60, Near Cold Storage, Union Carbide Road, Chhola, Bhopal*

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