December 03, 2022
On the 38th Anniversary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, thousands of survivors of the Union Carbide Gas Disaster of 3rd December 1984 demonstrated at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi today and demanded that the government should come out with accurate figures of deaths and health hazards due to the disaster. The petition signed by the 40 thousand survivors of the tragedy demanding correction to be made in their curative petition for additional compensation to be heard by the Constitutional Bench of Supreme Court if India on January 10th, 2023. The Senior Advocate fighting the case for Bhopal survivors, Karuna Nundy, and Dalit labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur among other eminent personalities and concerned citizens joined the fight and struggle of Bhopal Survivors at Jantar Mantar that reverberated the demands of justice for the survivors.
Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said, “93 % of the Bhopal survivors have been assigned in temporary injury category and been given only 25 thousand rupees as compensation. This is the kind of injustice that the Manmohan Singh government sought to remedy when it filed the Curative Petition in 2010 for additional compensation from the American corporations. However, justice cannot be done till the figures of death and extent of injuries caused by the disaster are revised by the present government.”
“As per official records, 95 % of gas victims diagnosed with cancers and 97 % of gas victims with fatal kidney injuries have been considered to have suffered only temporary injury due to the disaster. This fact alone demonstrates how injuries of Bhopal victims have been downplayed in the court. ” said Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha. “The current Chief Minister had written to Manmohan Singh that the injuries of the Bhopal victims were permanent injuries and not temporary, as presented in the Curative Petition. However, the state government is yet to reiterate that before the Supreme Court.” he said.
As per Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action said, “The Madhya Pradesh government has stated in the Supreme Court, in another matter, that 15,242 people died as a result of the Bhopal Gas Disaster. However, the state government failed to take steps to revise the inaccurate figure of 5295 deaths presented in the Curative Petition.” “How can justice be done if the Hon’ble Judges of Supreme Court are not made aware of the true extent of the damages caused by the disaster?” she asked.
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha’s Shahzadi Bee pointed out the difference in the amounts of compensation sought by the government and by the survivor associations, ”The government is asking for 96 billion rupees as compensation from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical whereas we are demanding Rs. 646 billion rupees. The figures we have used to calculate the compensation amount are from official records and that of the Indian Council of Medical Research, a central government agency.” This disparity in the figures forwarded by the survivors and government reflects downplaying and insensitive approach on the part of government while calculating relief packages.
Nousheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide chose the occasion to encourage residents of Delhi-NCR to actively demand for better air quality. “We hear that many people in Delhi and especially children are experiencing irritation in the eyes, cough and congestion due to deterioration of air quality. Experts have indicated the likelihood of an increase in chronic diseases of the lung, heart, kidneys and other organs. This is but slow-motion Bhopal where commercial interests prevail over life and health of the ordinary citizens.”
A delegation consisting of Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group of Information and Action Shahzadi Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sanghrash Morcha and Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmachari Sangh, met with the Hon’ble Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya and apprised him of their current situation and submitted a set of documents, showing actual figures of death and fatalities, legal basis for their demand for revised relief package memorandum of demands. The documents also include affidavit on Morbidity and Mortality caused by the exposure of Methyl Isocynate in Bhopal by Dr. Swarup Sarkar, a public health expert who has worked in senior positions in the Government of India, UN agencies and other international institutions and demanded that these documents should be included in the joint compilation that will be filed before Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
Rashida Bi, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
Nawab Khan & Shezadi Bee, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Nausheen Khan, Children Against Dow Carbide