Bhopal gas tragedy survivors call shutdown Oct 11


Bhopal : For the first time in their 27-year fight for justice, Bhopal gas tragedy survivors will hold a day-long shutdown Oct 11 here, seeking correct government figures on health damage caused in the 1984 industrial disaster, a protester said Saturday.

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At a press conference here, five organisations called for a peaceful “Bhopal bandh”. These were Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children Against Dow-Carbide.

The shutdown is planned to put pressure on the government to present actual figures of health damage caused in disaster at the Union Carbide plant on the intervening night of Dec 2-3, 1984.

The Superme Court, which is hearing a petition on compensation for gas victims, may hear the case in October.

Rashida Bee, leader of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, said that tragedy survivors were demanding that the state and central governments present correct figures on the health damage before the Supreme Court.

On the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, the leakage of tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas killed many people. Government records showed 5,295 deaths, 4,902 with permanent disability, 35,455 with temporary disability and 527,894 with minor injuries.

“But our figures show that till 2009, 22,917 people died, 5,08,437 people became permanently disabled and 33,781 others received severe injuries,” Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action told IANS.

“The government’s counsel sometimes say 15,000 have died so far, while sometimes they say the figure is 5,000. The central and state governments have presented thoroughly unscientific data on the deaths and health damage caused by the disaster,” she said.

Dhingra said that internal documents of Union Carbide Corp, US, and the results of the medical research done by the Indian Council of Medical Research showed that 93 percent of the survivors were wrongly categorised as “temporarily injured” and given a compensation of Rs.25,000.

Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that in Jaiprakash Nagar, a neighbourhood located opposite the Union Carbide factory, nine out of 10 residents were categorised as temporarily injured.

Safreen Khan from Children Against Dow Carbide said that the curative petition presented by the central and state governments in the Supreme Court had not even mentioned the health damage to children born to gas-exposed parents.

“If the governments do not present correct information, even the best of judges cannot do justice in a case,” she said.