Bhopal prays and protests on 35th anniversary of 1984 Union Carbide gas leak tragedy

Placards bearing 'No More Bhopal,' were carried by the protesters during the march which was carried out from the Bharat Talkies to the abandoned Union Carbide factory premises.

Published: 04th December 2019 12:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th December 2019 12:36 AM   |  A+A-

A view of abandoned Union Carbide Factory is seen from Atal Ayyub Nagar one of the most affected areas in Bhopal Friday Nov. 23 2018. (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

BHOPAL: On the 35th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy on Tuesday, organizations working for the cause of the victims and survivors of the 1984 industrial disaster carried out protest marches in the Old Bhopal area here, where the Union Carbide factory now lies defunct.

Placards bearing “No More Bhopal,” were carried by the protesters during the march which was carried out from the Bharat Talkies to the abandoned Union Carbide factory premises.

Children of the gas tragedy survivors presented musical drama pertaining to the tragedy (considered the worst industrial disaster) its fallout and the problems being faced by the survivors.

The protesters demanded adequate compensation and proper medical treatment for the survivors, besides stringent punishment for those responsible for the disaster.

An all religion prayer meeting was held at the Barkatullah Bhawan to pay homage to the victims of a gas leak. Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon was among those who attended the prayer meeting.

"We all, as members of civil society, have the responsibility not to allow such a disaster to happen again," said Tandon.

Leak of 40 tonnes of deadly methyl isocyanate gas from Union Carbide's pesticide plant here on the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984, killed over 5,000 people and injured thousands of others.

While unofficial estimates put the death toll of the tragedy at 22,917 as of 2010, the figure submitted by the state government to the Supreme Court is 5,295, and the government paid compensation only for them, said social activist Rachna Dhingra.

There are tens of thousands of survivors who are suffering from cancer, blindness, respiratory diseases and neurological disorders as a result of inhaling the toxic gas, she claimed

“Today we happen to have two known supporters of Dow Chemical, owner of Union Carbide, including the present central and state governments. During his 2015 visit to the USA our Prime Minister instead of making any attempt to make Dow Chemical obey the Bhopal Court’s summons hugged and dined with the corporation’s CEO. There has been a dramatic rise in sale of Dow Chemical’s products in India since Narendra Modi came to power."

"In 2006, our present Chief Minister Kamal Nath who was then the union minister of commerce and industry, had written to the then Prime Minister to send “appropriate signal to Dow Chemical which is exploring investing substantially in India,” said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.

According to Nawab Khan President, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, “Both central and state government are misleading the Supreme Court by presenting false figures of death and disease caused by the disaster in the Curative Petition for enhanced compensation from the American corporations. Both are downplaying the hazards of the ongoing contamination of soil and groundwater which is the legal liability of  Dow Chemical and refusing to get the contaminated lands scientifically assessed by competent agencies.”

“Our governments have been so busy cozying up to the criminal corporations that they have had no time left to care for the survivors of the disaster in the last 35 years. Till today there are no standardized treatment protocols for medical rehabilitation, no effective plans to provide gainful employment or monthly pensions to the needy and no initiative to ensure a safe living environment for the survivors of the disaster.” said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action. 

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