Tuesday, June 6th, 2006
Bhopal – With six more victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy dying, doctors at a hospital that was set up here to treat the affected people are being accused of negligence.
‘More than six people have died in the past two months due to the sheer negligence of the BMHRC management,’ alleged Abdul Jabbar, convenor of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS), a pressure group working for the cause of the gas tragedy victims.
The BMHRC – Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre – came into being for the treatment of those suffering from the after-effects of the tonnes of lethal Methyl Isocyanate gas that leaked out of Union Carbide’s pesticide plant on the night of Dec 2, 1984, killing over 1,700 people instantly and affecting thousands for life.
The hospital management is often accused of giving priority to private patients at the cost of gas victims for whom the hospital was established.
Six gas tragedy victims are reported to have died in the past two months.
‘The doctors fitted a respiratory pipe into my father’s throat that led to excessive bleeding and resulted in his death,’ claimed Noor Jahan, daughter of Abdul Hamid who died last month.
The BMHRC, which has a corpus of nearly Rs.3.88 billion (about $83 million), has been built and is run by funds provided by the Union Carbide Corp, after a Supreme Court ruling to that effect.
Jabbar’s brother died last month after he was reportedly not admitted to the hospital.
‘I took my brother to the BMHRC for treatment on the 3rd, 4th and 20th (of May) but it was only on the 24th that they admitted him. Had they admitted him the very first day, he would not have died,’ said Jabbar.
He is now demanding that the Supreme Court oversee the day-to-day functioning of the hospital because ‘the management gives preference to private patients at the cost of gas victims for whom the hospital was established.
‘All I am asking for is that (the Bhopal) gas tragedy victims should get the right treatment and not be ignored,’ said Jabbar.
‘Ignorance and carelessness have become the bane of the BMHRC,’ said Shaukat Ali, who lost her sister Afsar Jahan May 6. She alleged that her sister died after she was administered a wrong injection.
Five other gas victims – Kewal Kumar Sharma, Vishnu Kumar Vyas, Nandlal Panthi, Mazhar Khan and Hasina Bi – are reported to have died in the last two months.
This is not the first time the BMHRC has come in for criticism for ignoring the interests of the gas victims. Earlier too there have been complaints by patients and relatives that doctors deny treatment to the gas victims.
Activists say children born after the disaster are suffering from chronic respiratory and liver ailments but they are without any medical cover in spite of the Supreme Court’s directives.
According to an international medical commission, the victims suffer from serious health problems that are being misdiagnosed or ignored by local doctors.
BMHRC director Indranil Mittra, however, claimed they provide treatment only after the formalities are done, ‘but the patients are quite annoyed with the long and complex process of registration’.