Honourable Prime Minister,
Government of India,
North Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi 110 001
31 August 2017
Sub: Seeking Compassion for the Victims of the World’s Worst Industrial Disaster in Bhopal for Stopping the Deterioration of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre.
On behalf of the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, we seek an end to the apathy of your government towards the ongoing collapse of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) in Bhopal. At the outset we wish to make it clear that we are not seeking any financial allocations because it is not the shortage of funds that is coming in the way of vital medical care of the long suffering gas victims but the shortage of compassion in your government for the half million people of Bhopal exposed to one of the most poisonous chemicals in the world.
This lack of compassion is most evident by the fact that despite the passage of seven long years, there are no rules in place for recruitment of staff and purchase of equipment and medicines for the hospital. No attempt has been made by your government to fit the hospital into existing governance structures because of which every aspect of BMHRC’s management is ad-hoc and time consuming.
It is also significant that the appointment of the Secretary of the Department of Health Research, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the official primarily responsible for the deterioration of BMHRC was reportedly made on the basis of recommendations from the PMO.
To make you aware of the pitiable condition of the hospital for whose running, well over Rs. 700 Crores are available as corpus, we wish to present a few extracts from the October 2016 report of the Supreme Court appointed Monitoring Committee, majority of whose members are government officials and that is chaired by Justice V K Aggrawal of the Madhya Pradesh High Court :
“The matter of framing rules is pending since long, but it still has not reached its culmination. The same has become the cause of unrest and dissatisfaction to Doctors working in BMHRC as all other employees as uncertainty continues to loom large on their careers and future prospects. The Monitoring Committee is of the opinion that the matter should be dealt with on emergent basis and rules etc. should be finalized without further delay.”
“Whatever be the reason for delay in the matter, urgent steps in this direction are required to be taken, keeping in view the health hazard being faced by the patients in the absence of proper functioning of ventilators, as is the situation, at present.”
“The Monitoring Committee had earlier also noticed that the ICU, Central Monitoring System was not functional.”
“The Monitoring Committee is receiving complaints regarding delay in dialysis procedure in BMHRC. Monitoring Committee has also received complaints from the cancer patients regarding the follow up treatment after their surgery.”
“The Monitoring Committee had earlier also drawn the attention of Administration of the BMHRC towards delay in giving dialysis procedure to kidney patients.”
“However, Department of Medical Oncology is not available in BMHRC. In the absence of Medical Oncologist in BMHRC there is at present no arrangement for diagnosis and chemotherapy to cancer patients, who may not be required to undergo surgery.”
“It cannot be over emphasized that treatment of cancer patients requires urgent attention and delay may result in serious adverse effect on their condition.”
“The burning problem of the BMHRC is lack of Specialists/Super Specialist. The problem continues to plague the Institution, and appears to have seriously impacted the quality of treatment at BMHRC. It does not appear that the situation has changed despite several directions of the Monitoring Committee in the above post.”
“The Monitoring Committee was also informed that Anaesthesia Work Station, Heart-Lung Machine, C-arm etc. machines are not functioning properly as these are very old. Similarly, condition of Eco-Cardiography Machine, Infusion Pump, Harmonic Scalper, and Portable X-ray Machine etc. are going from bad to worse due to non execution of AMC.”
More recently the Monitoring Committee has submitted yet another report on BMHRC that describes a dire situation and is even more damning than the above.
Through this letter we urge you to issue necessary directions to ensure that the official apathy regarding Bhopal gas victims comes to an end so that BMHRC and other agencies of the Central Government supposedly to help gas victims can fulfil their stated objectives.
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Children Against Dow Carbide