Bhopal: Every single promise made to us unfulfilled, say gas victims’ bodies

‘In 12 yrs, govt could not even present correct figures of dead, injured in SC’

SmitaUpdated: Friday, December 02, 2022, 11:09 PM IST
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PRAVEENBAJPAI

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): After the Supreme Court, in 2011, turning down the plea to revisit its judgement of 1996, diluting the charges against the officials of the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), the state government had promised that it would pursue a curative petition filed in the SC, seeking to correct the number of casualties and fatalities in the gas tragedy.

The chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had even promised that he would himself lead a delegation of gas victims to meet the (then) Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to get their issues resolved.  Twelve years down the line, the curative petition is still pending and the promised meeting with the Prime Minister is yet to materialise.    

In fact, representatives of the survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy say that not only these two but all the other promises made by the Madhya Pradesh Government from time to time over the past 12 years have remained unfulfilled. The BMHRC is still handicapped, the lethal chemical waste on UCC premises still remains there and the UCC functionaries are still unpunished.

Not a single promise or announcement has been fulfilled,” Sadhna Karnik from Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti told Free Press.

But the biggest complaint of the gas victims is that the government is yet to present correct figures of the dead and the injured in the Supreme Court, where a curative petition seeking enhancement of compensation has been pending since 2010. 

In 1989, the UCC (Union Carbide Corporation) had agreed to pay a compensation of 470 million dollars for the gas victims on the basis of the casualty figures presented by the state government, according to which 3000 persons had died and 1,02,000 had suffered injuries in the disaster.

The gas survivor organisations, however, argued that the actual figures were much higher - the number of deaths was 15,274 and the number of injured was 5.73 lakhs. In 2010, a curative petition was filed in the Supreme Court by the government seeking enhancement of compensation. But despite repeated pleas by the gas victim bodies, neither the state nor the Central government has cared to correct the figures of the dead and injured in the petition, says Rashida Bi from Bhopal  Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh.

“When the government itself is paying pensions to 5,000 widows, how can it say that only 3,000 persons were killed? Does it mean that there was no woman, no child among the dead,” asks Rashida.

She said that they are going to meet the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers minister in Delhi on Friday demanding that the government should put up the corrected figures before the SC.  

Rachna Dhingra from Bhopal Group for Information and Action says that 80% of the posts of doctors in hospitals meant for gas victims were lying vacant. “There are no oncologists, no neurologists, no nephrologists,” she says.

They also say that more than 500 widows are not getting pension. One of them, Shanno, from Nawab Colony says that her husband was killed due to exposure to MiC two-year back but she hasn’t been enlisted as a gas tragedy widow. 

The chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced on the anniversary of the gas tragedy in 2020 that a memorial to the gas victims will be built at the place where the Union Carbide plant stood. However, nothing has moved on this front since then.

“How can a memorial be built when 350 MTs of lethal chemical waste is lying on the UCC premises? We can’t allow it. The government has been promising that the waste will be disposed of but nothing has been done,” says Rashida.

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