Bhopal: Internationally acclaimed writer Dominique Lapierre, who co-authored the book “Five Past Midnight in Bhopal” about the deadly gas tragedy, Tuesday expressed hope that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will soon set up the Empowered Commission to look into the matter.
Addressing a press conference on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal gas Tragedy, Lapierre said: “I hope that Manmohan Singh would facilitate setting up the commission and the state chief minister will stop his opposition to this commission and will provide all help to ushering in a sustained and positive change for the people who have been suffering for the last 25 years.”
Lapierre, who was awarded the Padma Bhushan last year, stated that he was pleased to know that the proposal for the Empowered Commission has been approved by several ministries of the union government. “I think that as an autonomous and publicly accountable body with adequate funds and authority, the commission on Bhopal will do the very urgent work of rebuilding the lives of the poisoned people of Bhopal.”
He said he was sure that the international community will support such a commission with funds and expertise and himself volunteered to raise international assistance for the work of the commission. Lapierre also spoke on his long association with the Sambhavna Trust of which he is a regular supporter. The trust runs a clinic to provide medical treatment to the victims of the gas tragedy.
He said that while Sambhavna takes care of a fraction of the affected population, he was sure that many of the therapies and techniques developed at Sambhavna could be used to provide effective medical care to the entire affected population.
Over 700 children including students from 11 schools participated today in the drawing and painting contest organized by the Sambhavna Trust Clinic. Children made drawings on the subject of the Union Carbide gas disaster or contamination of ground water due to Carbide’s toxic waste.
Books and games were awarded to 17 children selected by three members of the editorial team of ‘Chakmak’ – a children’s magazine.
Children from Shri Nav Niketan Higher Secondary School, Rajiv Memorial High School, Adarsh Model School, Elite Higher Secondary School, Gyan Jyoti Middle School, Mamta Gyan Mandir, Sanjay Memorial High School, Mother Teresa Convent School, Nutan Higher Secondary School, Anjali Adarsh Vidyalaya & Local Government School participated in the contest held at Chhola Dussera ground. Students from Rajiv Memorial High School bagged the most prizes. Shweta Karn from Rajiv Memorial High School and Ajay Singh Yadav from the same school got the first and second prize in the 6-10 years category. In the 11-15 years category, Rani Sahu from Sanjay Memorial High School and Rekha Singh from Rajiv Memorial High School got the first and second prizes. 11 consolation prizes were awarded.
The Sambhavna Trust clinic provides free medical care to the survivors of the December ’84 gas disaster as well as to the residents of the communities affected by ground water contamination by Union Carbide. The painting contest for children was organized by Sambhavna to make children aware of the World’s worst industrial disaster and the problem of ground water contamination.
More pictures here.
Staff of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic in Bhopal, and a large number of their supporters held a vigil at Roshanpura Square today in support of the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange have declared August 10th, the first day that the US army sprayed chemicals over Vietnam, to be Vietnam Day for Agent Orange Victims. Holding candles and carrying pictures of Vietnamese victims, members of Sambhavna collected signatures on a global petition in solidarity with the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.
The petition supports the class action lawsuit filed by the Vietnamese victims in the US federal court. The suit seeks compensation from Dow Chemical and 36 other American chemical companies, which produced Agent Orange for the US army. Dow Chemical Company is the present owner of Union Carbide Corporation that caused the gas disaster in Bhopal in December 1984.
From 1961 to 1971, during its invasion of Vietnam, the US army sprayed 79 million litres of Agent Orange and other defoliants to destroy over 3 million hectares of forests in southern Vietnam. Agent Orange contained a high content of toxic dioxin, which caused genetic changes, cancer and deformities in the affected victims and their children and grandchildren. Of the 3 million victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam over 50, 000 have died of cancer and other diseases caused by exposure to Dioxin. Currently there are 50 thousand Vietnamese children with cleft lip, missing or shortened limbs, paralysis and other birth deformities.
The Sambhavna Trust Clinic provides free medical care to the survivors of the December 1984 gas disaster as well as to the residents of the communities affected by ground water contamination by Union Carbide. Please visit www.bhopal.org for more information about the Clinic.
Sign the Vietnam petition here