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18 October 2011

Bhopal Gas victims give call for indefinite ‘Rail Roko’ stir

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By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, have given a call for indefinite “Rail Roko” (Stop trains) agitation if their demand for ensuring adequate compensation to all victims of the disaster is not met within the next one month.

Addressing a joint Press conference here on Monday five organizations (NGOs) working for the welfare of the survivors of December 1984 Union Carbide disaster announced that they will hold a peaceful “Rail Roko” if their demand are not met forthwith.

The organizations who had organized a successful city-wide Bhopal Bandh on October 11 last demanded that the central and state governments present correct figures of injury and death in the soon to be heard curative petition in the Supreme Court.

The representatives of five organizations viz. Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information & Action and Children Against Dow Carbide jointly addressed the Press conference.

“The peaceful manner in which survivors of all walks of life came together for the Bhopal Bandh is a testimony of the people of Bhopal’s collective spirit against injustice”, said Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh. “We are very hopeful that the call for indefinite peaceful “Rail Roko” will receive similar widespread response from the survivors of the disaster”, she added.

The organizations presented copies of letters sent to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and Group of Minister on Bhopal in the last one year on the issue of wrongful denial of compensation to majority of the gas victims.

“All we are asking is that the government presents figures of injury and death based on the report of the Indian Council of Medical Research on the health impacts of the disaster. These findings show that majority of gas victims are permanently and not temporarily injured and that the death toll of the disaster is about five times more than the official figures”, said Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Morcha.

Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that they are giving the government one month’s time, which is more than sufficient time to review and rectify the figures of death and injury in the curative petition. He said that the organizations were well aware of the inconvenience that would be caused to ordinary people due to the indefinite “Rail Roko” and are inviting suggestions for other equally effective mass actions at # 9826167369. He however hopes that good sense will prevail upon the concerned state and central government officials so that “Rail Roko” was no longer necessary.

Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha appealed to all survivors of the disaster who has not received adequate compensation to join the petitions to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister on this issue. The petition which will be submitted to the central and state governments in the next 15 days has already been signed by over 10,000 survivors, he informed.

It may be recalled here that 40 tones of methyl isocyanate, (MIC – a highly volatile toxic chemical), gas spewed from the pesticide plant – owned by Union Carbide India Limited, (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA – in the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. The gas leak killed 3,000 people instantly and more than 25,000 over the years and inflicting grievous injuries on countless others. Many were deformed for life and many children born with the toxic effect are sick and with congenital malformations. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer till date.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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