Indian Express, March 20, 2007
NEW DELHI, ARCH 19: Following enormous pressure, the Madhya Pradesh government has agreed to meet some of the demands related to water, medical care and rehabilitation of the people affected by the Bhopal gas tragedy.
The latest agreement comes after six of the “Right to Live” campaigners fasted for nearly a fortnight in Bhopal. Today, on behalf of the state government, the collector handed over a written response to each of the demands raised by the four organisations involved.
Now, immediate steps will be taken to fill vacant posts in hospitals meant for gas-affected people. Doctors and specialists at the gas relief hospitals will henceforth be hired on five year contracts in place of two years. The government will also vacate 152 work sheds in the Special Industrial Area within three months to establish employment generating industries. Additionally, the state government will help survivors form Self Help Groups that will carry out production activities and survivors will be given priority while granting loans and subsidies through existing self employment schemes.
The state government also agreed to provide all information on soil and ground water contamination in and around the Union Carbide factory and to build a wall around its premises to protect children and cattle from hazardous materials. For provision of safe water in the vicinity of the abandoned factory, 50 additional tanks will be provided within a month’s time.
The demands of the campaigners regarding setting up of an office of the Coordination Committee on Bhopal and formation of sub-groups on medical care, economic, social and environmental rehabilitation with participation of survivors’ organisations was also accepted.
On behalf of the state government, the collector will organise a follow up meeting after a month to take stock of progress made with regard to different issues.
Meanwhile, the Bhopal organisations said public action had been planned in India and abroad for April and May in the event the State Government failed to honour its commitments. Supporters from India, US and other countries sent more than 2,000 faxes to the Chief Minister and made more than 500 phone calls to senior bureaucrats and ministers in the Madhya Pradesh Government in this regard.