Bhopal Gas victims demand intervention of GoMB for compensation

By Pervez Bari,,

Bhopal: Several survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial disaster, who have been diagnosed with cancers and kidney failures, feel left in the lurch due to government’s apathy towards them.

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At a press conference organized by four voluntary organizations, which are working among the survivors of the Bhopal disaster, here on Monday the survivors complained that they had still not received the ex-gratia amount of Rs. 2 lakhs as declared by the Central government. Several relatives of such patients reported that their applications for payments of ex-gratia amounts were not heard and the patients died before they could benefit from the ex-gratia payment. Many of them said they had to take out loan to meet the expenses of the treatment.

Shaheen, whose mother Sitara Bi died of lung cancer last month, narrating her woes said that they received no response to their application for ex-gratia amount that was submitted to the office of the Welfare Commissioner on January 13 this year. Sajid Ali said that his father, a cancer patient had applied for ex-gratia relief on December 16, 2010 but he did not get a reply till his death last month.

Relatives of Irfan who died at the age of 34 of blood cancer in January and Guddo Bee who died at the age of 35 of liver cancer in February this year are yet to get any response from the Welfare Commissioner to their applications for interim relief.

Rashid Khan who has been diagnosed with throat cancer and is no longer able to work has applied for ex-gratia relief on December 21 last year, is still waiting to receive the amount that he could use for his treatment. Afroz Bi who was diagnosed with breast cancer and applied for ex-gratia relief in January this year is still awaiting a response from the Welfare Commissioner.

Similarly, 30-year-old Sameena and 33-year-old Chhotu Khurani whose families have spent all their savings in their treatment for Chronic Renal failure have received no ex-gratia amount despite submitting applications at the Welfare Commissioner’s office in March and April this year.

These organizations have condemned the heartless attitude and lackadaisical response of the Welfare Commissioner and demanded immediate intervention of the state government and the Group of Ministers in Bhopal, (GoMB), on this critical matter. The four NGOs under whose aegis the Press conference was held are: Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh; Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha; Children Against Dow Carbide and Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

“What good will the money do after the patient has died?” asks Rashida Bi of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh. She stated that while an estimated 3000 gas disaster survivors diagnosed with cancers and renal failures were to be paid ex-gratia amounts, not a single patient has received any money so far.

Meanwhile, presenting copies of the minutes of the Group of Ministers on Bhopal, (GoMB), Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action pointed out that the GoMB had recommended payment of ex-gratia amount of Rs. Two lakhs, less compensation amount paid earlier, in June 2010. She said that as per the March 2011 decision of the Group of Ministers on Bhopal, these payments are to be made before June 2011. ([email protected])