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Bhopal gas tragedy: Survivors to hold rally in New Delhi on Dec 3

New Delhi, December 2: Bhopal gas tragedy survivors will be demonstrating and holding a rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on December 3, the 38th anniversary of the worst industrial disaster in the world, to press for demands like additional compensation and correction of death and permanent injury figures in the curative petition that is being currently heard in Supreme Court.
In a press conference on Friday, ahead of leaving for New Delhi, leaders of five survivors’ organizations expressed hope that the state government will fulfil its promises of presenting correct figures of death and health damage caused by the disaster before the Supreme Court. The survivors are seeking additional compensation from Union Carbide Company and its current owner Dow Chemical.
Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, a trade union of women survivors of the disaster said, “Recently on November 17, the Principal Secretary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation department assured us that the state government will present correct figures of death in the Supreme Court and also state that the victims suffered permanent and not temporary injury. As a similar promise was made during the 27th anniversary of the disaster without any action later, we will remain apprehensive till it is actually done.”
Regarding other broken promises of the state government, Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha said, “On the 36th Anniversary of the disaster, the Chief Minister had promised lifelong pension to all women widowed by the gas disaster. Yet, as per official records, 569 women widowed by the disaster have not received any pension so far.”
He added that if the state government breaks its promise of presenting correct figures of death and health damage it will amount to misleading the apex court by its act of omission.
Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action pointed out the state government’s unfulfilled promise of 2010, of inviting global tenders for remediation of the contaminated lands near Union Carbide’s abandoned factory. “11 years ago, the state government promised to set up an expert panel to assess the environmental damage caused by Union Carbide and Dow Chemical and seek compensation from them. Since then the government has not done anything in this direction. The victims of the gas disaster can receive just compensation only if the state government presents correct figures of damage in the apex court,” she said.
“On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the disaster, the state government had committed itself to setting up a Special Cell for close monitoring of all legal proceedings related to the Bhopal disaster,” said Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.
“While the Special Cell remains to be set up till today, it is indeed frustrating to watch the state government’s counsel remaining silent during the proceedings of the Curative Petition last month. We hope during the hearing on January 10, the state government’s counsel will argue for the revised figures of death and injury,” he added.
Nousheen Khan of the organization Children Against Dow – Carbide said, “We are pained by the trail of promises broken by the state government, but, we continue to hope that on this critical matter of securing the legal right for adequate compensation of the Bhopal survivors, the state government will deliver its promise.”
(Courtesy: The Week)

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