Vultures not quite extinct in India

More than 2000 Bhopal survivors and their supporters will demonstrate in Delhi on October 26 to protest against those who are trying to grab a share of the undistributed compensation fund that the Supreme Court has ruled belongs solely to the survivors of Union Carbide’s 1984 gas disaster.

At the head of the line with its hand out is the Madhya Pradesh government which until recently has been ignoring a Supreme Court to pipe clean water into areas whose wells have been poisoned by toxic chemicals abandoned at Carbide’s factory.

The Bharatiya Janata Party would like the survivors’ money to be distributed in parts of the city that were unaffected by the gas. As commented a few weeks ago, it would be a first, asking the Supreme Court to sponsor mass bribery of voters.

The most shamefully cynical application for a share of the survivors’s money comes from the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust, established controversially by the sale of Union Carbide shares which had been seized by a Bhopal court following the corporation’s refusal to appear before it to face charges of culpable homicide. The Supreme Court justice who allowed sale of the shares against the wishes of survivors now sits on the board of trustees of the hospital.

Carbide’s hospital numbers among its facilities a swimming pool and other luxuries for staff, and expensive state-of-the-art operating theatres for heart surgery and other conditions which have nothing to do with the catastrophic health problems suffered by survivors. The reason is not far to seek, after 8 years it will be able to take lucrative private patients and as a BMHT PR lady incautiously admitted to a foreign visitor whom she imagined to be a sympathiser, “Frankly, we can’t wait for the day when we’ll no longer have to treat gas victims.”

The BMHT routinely turns away from its gates gas victims who have not the required paperwork and the practices in its four community clinics have been seriously questioned.

To put all this in perspective, even if the survivors get the money which is theirs by right, it will amount to something of the order of 5p a day for the 20 years over which they have been suffering and for many will not be enough to erase debts incurred paying medical expenses, nor to compensate for loss of livelihoods.

The treatment of the people of Bhopal by the corporation and a succession of Indian politicians has been shameful and inexcusable. Please do not stand by. Join with us in supporting the survivors in their long fight for justice. This website offers many ways to help.

October 24, 2004
Press Statement

Over 2000 survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster will take part in a rally at Jantar-Mantar, New Delhi on October 26 to press their demand for immediate distribution of the balance of compensation amount of over Rs. 1567 crores.

On the same day, the Supreme Court of India is expected to decide on the applications filed by the Madhya Pradesh Government, Bharatiya Janata Party, Bhopal Hospital Trust, Union of India and the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan with regard to the Supreme Court’s July 19th decision regarding distribution of the balance of compensation amount.

The survivors under the leadership of Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla, Syed M Irfan and Shahid Noor will travel by four trains Pathankot Express, Dakshin Express, Malwa Express and Bhopal Express to register their protest against the parties responsible for causing delay in the distribution of the amount.

According to the survivors, the Bharatiya Janata Party is coming in the way of speedy distribution of compensation to the survivors by pushing for distribution of compensation to the residents of the 20 municipal wards that remained unaffected by the disaster.

The survivors’ leaders also expressed anger at the Madhya Pradesh government’s attempt to usurp part of the compensation money that rightfully belongs to the survivors. They also condemned the Bhopal Hospital Trust’s application before the Supreme Court seeking a share of the compensation money.

The leaders asserted the legal right of the survivors over the entire sum left after the distribution of compensation and called for immediate distribution of the amount in view of the dire need of the gas affected population.

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

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