Gas ministry "riddled with corruption, apathy and incompetence"

Bhopal, November 28, 2007, Press Statement
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information & Action
Hundreds of victims of American multinational corporations – Union Carbide and Dow Chemical, demonstrated today at the residence of the Minister of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation in Bhopal. Survivors of the December ’84 Union Carbide gas disaster along with residents of communities affected by poisoning of ground water by chemical wastes from Union Carbide’s abandoned factory, condemned the state government’s neglect of the victims.
The demonstrators dumped bottles of medicines from government hospitals in front of the Minister’s gate to highlight the inadequacies of the health care system for victims of Union Carbide. They said that these and other medicines had been purchased from dubious companies and were ineffective against chemical induced illnesses that they continue to suffer.
Leaders of the three organizations — Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action told the Minister that in the last 18 months the state government had not implemented a single decision of the Coordination Committee on Bhopal (CCB).
The latest politician to enjoy the gas relief minstry’s perks was reminded of his obligations today. The look on his face suggests it came as a bit of a shock…
The Committee for overseeing the work of rehabilitation of the Bhopal victims was set up by the Prime Minister last year with representations from the central government, the state government and survivors and supporters organizations. The organizations pointed out that as per the decision of the CCB, the state government was supposed to have prepared an action plan for medical, economic, social and environmental rehabilitation of the victims of Bhopal.
The organizations also pointed out that the state government had not fulfilled any of the promises made to the three organizations at the end of their month long dharna and fast in February – March this year. They reminded the Minister that the scientific report on health effects of ground water contamination was to be published by July this year and five months later, even the draft of the report is not ready.
The organizations condemned the state government’s recent decision to deny free medical care to the children of the gas exposed parents and continued denial of free medical care to people who are sick due to contaminated ground water. They charged the Minister with deliberate neglect towards the recommendations made in the six reports of the Monitoring Committee set up by the Supreme Court for reforming the official health care system of Bhopal victims.
Survivors surround the gas minister as he confesses his utter incompetence
The Minister, who met the demonstrators out side his gate, accepted that the action plan was not ready and that he had not yet gone through the relevant paperwork to be able to respond to the other charges of the demonstrators. Speaking to the media outside the Minister’s bungalow the organizations said that they no longer had any expectations from the state government whose Ministry was riddled with corruption apathy and incompetence. They said they will now pressure the central government for setting up of a National Commission on Bhopal with adequate funds and authority for long term rehabilitation of the victims of Bhopal.
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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