Press Statement: “ICMR-NIREH Has Betrayed Gas Survivors”

Press Statement                 11 October 2014

Five organisations working for the welfare of the survivors of the December ’84 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today demonstrated outside the National Institute for Research on Environmental Health (NIREH) during its 4th foundation day celebrations. They charged this 31st center of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) with betrayal of the interests of the survivors.

Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh pointed out, “Despite expenditure of Rs. 8 Crores on renovation of its current building no laboratory at NIREH is in working condition. Only 2 out of 32 equipment purchased have been put to use so far and warranties for all machines have expired.”

Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha said, “Of the 10 research proposals listed, work is going on at NIREH on only one project. 2 other ongoing projects are being carried out by external researchers at their own work places. He further stated, “Only 44 of the 184 sanctioned posts have been filled in the last 4 years at NIREH and a full time Director remains to be appointed.”

“In violation of ICMR’s ethical code, research on survivors of the gas disaster is being carried out without their informed consent “, said Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha. He said that in last 4 years not a single research study has been completed and only 412 survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster have benefited from NIREH.

The organizations also questioned the educational qualification and quality of staff employed at NIREH. They said that of the 5 scientists currently in NIREH, 4 have not published a single research paper in international peer reviewed journals in their entire career. 2 scientists have earlier been suspended for working in a private clinic during duty hours. Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action pointed out, “Till today NIREH has not been able to send a reply to the serious criticism of its report published in the prestigious international scientific journal The Lancet in December 2013.”

The organizations complained that of the 6 Clinical Research Wings mentioned on their website only one is functioning, that too partially, they said.

Representatives of the organisations handed a letter to the acting director of NIREH, mentioning all 9 issues of serious concern and sought a response.

Rashida Bi, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh94256 88215 Nawab Khan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha8718035409 Balkrishna Namdeo,Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha9826345423 Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action9826167369 Safreen Khan,Children Against Dow Carbide


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