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Bhopal gas tragedy survivors march to Delhi


Agra : A group of 50 survivors of the Bhopal gas leak holocaust, marching for nearly one month, reached here Monday after walking over 500 km to highlight the continued indifference of the successive state and central governments to their plight.

The group started their march Feb 20 from Bhopal and is going to New Delhi where they will meet the prime minister March 28.

On the early morning of Dec 3, 1984, nearly 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas were released from Union Carbide factory in Bhopal.

The incident, known as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands suffering from chronic exposure.

Rashida Bee, one of the marchers, told IANS that nearly 25,000 victims living in the vicinity of the Union Carbide factory still suffer from a range of diseases including cancer and birth defects due to presence of toxic chemicals in the groundwater. This has been confirmed by at least 10 studies by government and non-government agencies.

The survivors said it was the duty of the central government to rehabilitate the victims.

“In 23 years they have not done anything even though the Supreme Court had directed the government to provide medical insurance coverage to at least 100,000 children born to gas exposed parents. But this has not been done so far,” said Syed Irfan, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.

“We want the prime minister to extradite the representatives of the Union Carbide who are still evading criminal justice in India and confiscate the corporation’s properties in the country,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

Activists said the support for the victims have been growing since the start of the march. A dozen people from Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district facing acute pollution related problems have joined the march while nearly 1,200 letters of support have been faxed from 17 countries to the prime minister’s office.

The survivors Monday faxed 20 new questions to the prime minister, hoping he would have answers for them when they meet him in New Delhi.