BHOPAL: Protests, allegations and demands for adequate compensation and facilities to survivors marked the 36th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, which had left a deep scar on the state’s capital more than three decade ago.
Giving vent to ire, gas victims not only burnt the effigy of Dow Chemical and DuPont at Union Carbide plant site on Thursday but they also formed a human chain from DIG Bungalow to UCC plant site as mark of protest.
The gas victims said that the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the survivors in Bhopal and on people exposed to industrial pollution everywhere in the world has once again highlighted the urgent need for reigning in chemical corporations.
They alleged that judicial institutions in India and USA have failed miserably in the last 36 years to make Union Carbide and Dow Chemical obey the laws of the land. “As injustice and sufferings continue in Bhopal, corporations are encouraged to continue committing crimes against humanity and the global environment,” gas victims alleged.
They condemned the continued evasion of legal liabilities by Dow Chemical, USA for the ongoing damage to the health of the survivors and pollution of the local soil and groundwater.
The organizations working for the cause of gas victims denounced the state and Central governments for failing to make the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) pay adequate compensation and denying the rights of the survivors to medical care and social support.
“Dow Chemical’s market share that was down to 2.5 per cent in 2005 has steadily risen to over 22 per cent in the Indian market. For sure, the Prime Minister’s coziness with Dow has got something to do with this. Meanwhile, the monthly pension of Rs 1000 for roughly 5000 women widowed by the disaster has been stopped since last December.” said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh.
Alleging downplay of death toll of gas survivors due to COVID-19 by the Madhya Pradesh government, Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action, said “We dare the government officials to cite one instance in the last 36 years when we have stated something without factual or scientific basis.
“This is nothing new; officials have been downplaying the figures of death and extent of health damage caused by Union Carbide and Dow ever since the morning of the disaster. The official figure of deaths is still five times lower than the actual number and over 90 per cent of those exposed to Union Carbide’s gases have been categorized as needing just one visit to the hospital.”
Communist Party of India (CPI) raised demands like maximum compensation to gas victims, respectable and regular monthly destitute pension, separate identity of Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) and gas relief department of state government for free treatment and GOI initiatives for penalizing MNCs for justice.