Survivors accuse Madhya Pradesh government of squandering huge sums supposed to have been spent on the provision of employment to gas victims

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

March 2, 2007
PRESS STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On the completion of ten days of their “Jeene ka Haq” dharna (“Right to Live” sit-in) the four organisations campaigning against the Madhya Pradesh government today addressed a press conference on the issue of economic rehabilitation of the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster.
Rashida Bee founder and president of the trade union of women workers employed at the stationery production centre under the government printing press spoke on the injustice and discrimination against gas affected workers. She said that the stationery production centre, employing 79 gas affected women is the only functioning economic rehabilitation programme of the state government. Yet, the women who have worked for more than 20 years without any break continue to be employed as casual workers and their work being the same are paid nearly one third of the salary of other workers in the government printing press. Rashida Bee presented judgments from the Labour Court and the Industrial Court that have directed the state government to regularise the jobs of gas affected women workers. She said that the state government has chosen to appeal against the decisions and continues to violate the rights of workers.
Rachna Dhingra from the Bhopal Group for Information and Action pointed out that the state government claims to have spent a total of over 60 crores on economic rehabilitation of the gas disaster survivors yet all it has to show for this money is a malfunctioning stationery production centre employing less that 100 women. She said that it was a BJP government that had closed down the sewing centres employing 2,300 gas affected women in 1992 though they were making a profit of Rs 1 crore per year.
Recounting the failures of the state government vis a vis the vocational training of survivors, Ms Dhingra said that the state government spent Rs. 11 crores on training thousands of young survivors in 16 trades. However, the government’s training scheme failed to gain recognition for the National Certificate in Vocational Training and consequently thousands of survivors were denied jobs in BHEL and Railway Coach factory. Similarly, Rs. 8 crores spent on building 152 work sheds to employ 10, 000 victims have been totally squandered as not a single survivor has been employed in these.
The organisers of the ongoing dharna are demanding that the existing infrastructure for economic rehabilitation costing Rs. 23 crores should be put to use to provide much needed employment to the survivors who have lost their jobs due to the disaster. They presented an instance of environmentally friendly employment generation through the work of Chiraag Trust that has been renting out solar lamps to vegetable vendors. The leaders of the survivors’ organisations said that the production of bags from old newspapers being carried out at the dharna site was yet another instance of environment friendly employment generation for survivors of the disaster.
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 and www.studentsforbhopal.org to take action to support the survivors.

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