Candle light vigil marks Bhopal Gas Tragedy anniversary, activists remind govt of broken promises

  • | Friday | 2nd December, 2022

Bhopal, Dec 2 (PTI) A candlelight vigil was organized on Friday night near the now-defunct Union Carbide factory here in the memory of the victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy.Toxic gas leaking from Union Carbide"s pesticide factory killed thousands in Bhopal on the chilly and dreadful night of December 2 -3, 1984. It is considered to be one of the worst industrial disasters in the world.Some 1,000 members of five organizations of Gas Tragedy survivors boarded a train for New Delhi on Friday to hold a rally at Jantar Mantar on Saturday to press their demand of higher compensation.Members of the Sambhavna Clinic, which claims to be providing free treatment to the surviving victims for the last 26 years, took active part in a candlelight vigil.It started from Karond Vegetable market and ended with the lighting of lamps at the memorial for Gas Tragedy victims, said Aziza Sultan, a gynaecology assistant with the clinic.People who were exposed to the poisonous gas in December 1984 continue to die because of its long-lasting effects, she told PTI.“Those who were exposed to the gas in their childhood are dying in their forties because of chronic diseases of the lungs, kidneys and other organs and due to cancers. Too many gas victims are today dying of cancers of the lungs, gall bladder and uterus," she said. Official data shows that gas victims died of COVID-19 at a rate more than five times that of non-exposed people in the Bhopal district, she said. Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action told PTI that she along with 1000-odd people, mostly survivors were traveling to Delhi for the rally at Jantar Mantar. “The victims of the tragedy have not been paid adequately even now,” Dhingra said. Leaders of the five organizations of Gas Tragedy survivors expressed hope that the Madhya Pradesh government will fulfil its promises of presenting correct data of deaths and health damage caused by the disaster when the Supreme Court takes up a curative petition next month. Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, a trade union of women survivors of the disaster, said, “On November 17, the Principal Secretary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation assured us that the state government will present correct figures of death in the Supreme Court and also state that the victims have suffered permanent and not temporary injury. “A similar promise was made on the 27th anniversary of the disaster, so we will remain sceptical till it is actually done,” she added. 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 such women have not received any pension so far.” Rachna Dhingra pointed out the state government"s unkept promise of 2010 of inviting global tenders for remediation of the contaminated lands near Union Carbide"s abandoned factory. “Eleven years back the state government promised to set up an expert panel to assess the environmental damage caused by Union Carbide....and seek compensation from them. Since then the government has not done anything in this direction," she said. “On 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,” Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said. “While the Special Cell remains to be set up till today, it is indeed frustrating to watch the state government"s counsel remaining quiet during the proceedings of the Curative Petition last month,” he said. “We hope during the hearing on January 10, the state government"s counsel will argue for the revised figures of death and injury,” he said in a press release. Nousheen Khan of 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 legal rights to adequate compensation of the Bhopal survivors, the state government will deliver its promise. "In the words of Ghalib, we hope for loyalty from those who do not know what loyalty is.” (Humko unsey vafaa ki hai ummeed jo nahee jaanatey vafaa kyaa hai)," he said in a press statement. PTI LAL KRK KRK

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