"Right to Live" dharna: parents of babies born malformed due to Carbide's poisons demand the children should receive free medical care

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Bhopal Ki Aaawaaz

February 25, 2007
At a press conference in Bhopal today, parents of 14 children born with congenital abnormalities attributable to exposure to Union Carbide’s poisons demanded free medical care for their children and monthly pension of at least Rs. 1000 per month from the state government. 10 of these children had been successfully treated by the Chingari Trust set up by Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, leaders of survivors organisations sitting on dharna for the last five days demanding medical care, economic and social rehabilitation and protection from Union Carbide’s poisons from the state government.
Chromosomal aberrations have been found among the people exposed to Union Carbide’s toxic gases giving rise to apprehensions of birth defects among children of gas exposed parents. Several scientific studies by government and non-government agencies have confirmed the presence of several birth defect causing pesticides, chemicals and heavy metals in the ground water in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory.
Studies by the MP Pollution Control Board have shown that pesticides such as endrin, dieldrin, carbaryl, methoxychlor and others that can cause birth defects are present in the ground water samples collected from the area. International environmental organization Greenpeace reported finding tetra-, penta- and hexa- chlorobenzene as well as lead and mercury in soil and ground water samples, all of which can cause birth defects.
The Chingari Trust was set up with a fund of Rs 56 lakhs that Rashida Bee and Champa Devi received with the Goldman Environment Prize awarded to them in 2004 for leading the campaign of the survivors of the Union Carbide disaster. Last year the Trust identified 100 children with different kinds of birth defects in the gas and contaminated ground water exposed affected communities. 65 of these children were seen by medical specialists from New Delhi and Bhopal at a health camp in December 2006.
The specialists found that an unusually large number of children suffered from cerebral palsy that causes total disability. The doctors also found children with cleft lip and missing palate and with disabilities related to vision, hearing and mental functions. According to them a large number of these children could significantly benefit from surgical treatment and counseling.
Rashida Bee and Champa Devi have so far organized treatment for 10 children with limb deformities, cleft lips and missing palates in New Delhi and Bhopal. Last month they apprised the Minister of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation about the findings of the health camp and have urged the state government to arrange for medical treatment of children born with malformations due to Union Carbide’s poisons.
The four organisations that are determined to continue with their dharna till the state government concedes to the demands of their “Right to Life” campaign have called for medical treatment of children with congenital malformations and monthly pensions to their families. They are also demanding monthly pensions for women who were widowed by the disaster, persons who are too sick to earn a livelihood, survivor families living below the poverty line and those above 60 years with no family to depend on.
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
94256 88215
Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
93290 26319
Shahid Noor
Bhopal ki Aawaaz
98261 82226
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
98261 67369
Contact : House No. 60, Near Cold Storage, Union Carbide Road, Chhola, Bhopal
Please visit www.bhopal.net for more information on the campaign for justice in Bhopal

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