THE HINDU, MARCH 20, 2007
Government accepts demands of organisations of survivors of the gas tragedy
# Hospitals for survivors to have improved facilities
# Additional water tanks to be installed
BHOPAL: Fourteen days after they began their protest fast to press their demands for water, medical care and rehabilitation of the people affected by the Union Carbide gas tragedy here, six of the “Right to Live” campaigners called off their indefinite fast on Sunday.
The decision to end the fast and the 27-day dharna was taken after the State Government accepted the key demands of the four organisations of survivors of the December 1984 disaster and District Collector S.K. Mishra handed over a written response to each of the demands.
The Collector has been authorised by the Chief Minister to negotiate with the representatives of the four organisations: Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Bhopal Ki Aawaaz.
To celebrate their victory, a large number of survivors and residents living next to the abandoned Union Carbide factory danced to the beat of drums. They requested their supporters in Washington DC to call off their three-day-old fast in front of the Indian embassy.
Under the agreement reached with the State Government, immediate steps would be taken to fill vacant posts in hospitals meant for the gas-affected people and to improve the quality of medicines and facilities. Doctors and specialists would be posted on a five-year contract instead of two. The Government also agreed to vacate the 152 work-sheds in the Special Industrial Area here within three months to establish employment-generating industries within a year. It would also help survivors form self-help groups.. The Government agreed to provide all information on soil and ground water contamination in and around the Union Carbide factory and to build a wall around the factory to protect children and cattle from the hazardous material lying inside. Fifty additional water tanks would be provided within a month to communities in the vicinity of the abandoned factory.
The campaigners’ demand for setting up 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 were also accepted.