Six representatives of survivors of the Union Carbide Gas Disaster go on an indefinite hunger strike until demands of the ‘Right to Live’ campaign are met

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal ki Aawaaz
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

March 5, 2007
Press Statement
Six representatives of survivors of the world’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal today started their indefinite fast demanding medical care, economic and social rehabilitation and protection from Union Carbide’s poisons that continue to kill and maim people even after 22 years. The fast is part of the ongoing “Jeene kaa Haq”(Right to Live) campaign led by four organizations of the survivors of the disaster and those affected by ground water contamination caused due to the negligence of Union Carbide’s current owner Dow Chemical company.
The hunger strikers include Goldman Environmental Prize winner Rashida Bee who lost six family members to cancer and herself suffers from chronic physical and mental problems ever since the disaster. Others include Guddi Bee and Jabbar Khan who live next to the Union Carbide factory and are affected due to contaminated ground water. The fourth member in the group Shehazadi Bee was exposed to Carbide’s toxic gases in 1984 and then to contaminated water when she moved in to a community close to the factory. The other two hunger strikers are Rachna Dhingra and Satinath Sarangi who are not affected themselves but have been involved with relief, research and campaign efforts in support of the Bhopal survivors for last several years.
The organizations are demanding free medical care of the residents of communities near the Union Carbide factory with contaminated groundwater, implementation of a Drug Policy to ensure evidence based treatment with quality medicines and greater emphasis on Yoga and herbal treatments in the health care of the people affected by toxic chemicals. They are also calling upon the state government to ensure adequacy of doctors and diagnostic equipment in the hospitals and clinics meant for treatment of the poisoned people.
According to the organizations, over 50, 000 persons affected by the disaster in 1984 are unable to continue with their occupations as a result of their exposure induced chronic illnesses. They pointed out that despite the expenditure of Rs 60 Crores, the state government has provided jobs to less than 100 survivors and demanded effective utilization of the Rs. 23 Crore infrastructure created for the economic rehabilitation of the survivors.
Citing the additional burden of medical care costs, the organizations are calling upon the state government to provide monthly pension of Rs. 1000 per month to families who have had children born with congenital malformations caused by the toxic exposure of their parents. They are demanding that this amount should also be provided to women widowed by the disaster, families in which the breadwinner has died or is too sick to work and those below the official poverty line.
Starting from 1990, 10 government and non-government scientific investigations have confirmed the presence of cancer and birth defect causing chemicals in the ground water up to 3 kilometres from the abandoned pesticide factory of Union Carbide. The factory in which Greenpeace found mercury contamination up to 6 million times more than safe levels is open to children and cattle and the toxic waste lying within the factory continue to leach in to the soil and ground water.
The organizations are demanding that the state government make arrangements for secure containment of the toxic waste and build walls around the factory. The organizations are also demanding provision of safe drinking water by the state government as per the directions of the Supreme Court of India.
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
____
Bhopal contact:
House No. 60, Risaldar Colony,
Union Carbide Road, Bhopal
462 001
New Delhi contacts:
Shalini Sharma: 9891442037
Suroopa Mukherjee: 9818029882
Please visit www.bhopal.net/ for latest information on the situation in Bhopal.

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