July 30, 2010
Bhopal survivors’ organisations today presented the case of Sana, an 8-year old girl from the contaminated water affected Annu Nagar, to Rajya Sabha Member, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan to highlight how the Group of Ministers’ recommendations last month do not address the unfolding health and economic disasters among victims of Carbide’s toxic legacy in Bhopal. Bhopalis are on the fourth day of their indefinite dharna in Jantar Mantar.
Sana, who has had to drink contaminated groundwater for the last four years, developed a tumour in her throat a year ago. Over the months, the tumour has grown to block her wind-pipe. She now breathes through a tube that goes in to into her throat. Her family of four, including a seriously underdeveloped 2-year old brother, does not figure in the Government’s schemes for free medical care because contamination affected communities are not considered by the Government to be at par with the victims of the gas disaster.
Sana is in Jantar Mantar with her parents as part of the rally from Bhopal, as her parents could not even afford the cost of train travel to Delhi for treatment. Bhopal-based Gandhi Medical College has referred them to AIIMS to get the tumour operated as local facilities do not exist. In response to an appeal for financial assistance that Sana’s parents made with the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, they were told to get an estimate of the cost of treatment from AIIMS.
Two samples of groundwater taken from Annu Nagar by the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi in 1999 have revealed toxic levels of chemicals, all of which were generated in the Union Carbide factory.
“Contamination affected people do not figure in the list of those eligible for free treatment. They must be and that is one of our main demands,” said Syed M Irfan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purusg Sangharsh Morcha . Health abnormalities, particularly among children, and birth defects are rampant among both gas-affected and contamination-affected communities.
“Sana is a case in point to demonstrate that the Group of Ministers in their hurried 4-day meeting cannot and have not addressed the lingering rehabilitation needs that four political parties and 9 Prime Ministers have failed to address in 26 years,” said Rachna Dhingra spokesperson for the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
Leave alone the contamination-affected, majority of the gas-affected have been ignored by the Group of Ministers. The Government of India’s Rs. 700 crore enhanced compensation package covers only 7 percent of the total registered victims. At least 530,000 will get nothing from this package.
The proposal for the Empowered Commission on Bhopal, which Mr. Paswan had presented and got approved in the earlier Group of Ministers in 2008, would have been in a position to address all aspects of rehabilitation. But the Group of Ministers reconstituted last month has gone back on the government’s commitment to set up the Empowered Commission.
“By failing to set up the Commission, the Group of Ministers has pushed any possibility of rehabilitation of the Bhopal victims, if any, far into the future,” said Nayeem from the Children against Dow-Carbide.
The Bhopal survivor organisations are taking Sana to AIIMS tomorrow to get her examined and possibly operated upon. They have urged Mr. Paswan and other Members of Parliament to ensure that Bhopal is taken as a key issue of discussion in the parliament.
Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha Mob. 9329026319
Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh Mob. 9425688215
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha Mob. 9826345423
Children Against Dow-Carbide Mob. 9826994797
Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action Mob. 9826167369