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Bhopal survivors urge Chidambaram to correct figures of death & injury in curative petition in Supreme Court

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By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Leaders of five organizations of survivors of the December ’84 Union Carbide disaster today faxed a memorandum to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram a day before his visit to Bhopal. The organizations said that they were shocked and hurt to find that Mr. Chidambaram’s itinerary does not include any meeting with the survivors of the disaster who he is supposed to serve as Chairman of the Group of Ministers on Bhopal Tragedy.

The organizations said that Mr. Chidambaram heading the Group of Ministers on Bhopal Tragedy has failed to keep the promise, made in the Bhopal Act of 1985, to protect the best interests of the victims vis-à-vis the American corporation. They said that instead of being a facilitator, Mr. Chidambaram is the main obstacle in gas victims receiving adequate compensation from the Union Carbide and its current owner Dow Chemical.

Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said: “The central government has accepted that Bhopal victims have not been compensated adequately by Union Carbide and has filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court for enhancement of compensation. But the figures of death and injuries caused by the Union Carbide disaster have been downplayed badly. The curative petition says more than 90 per cent of the victims have suffered only temporary injury. This is totally against records of government hospitals that show that over half a million victims were receiving treatment for chronic illnesses even 18 years after the disaster.”

“The epidemiological research carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research, (ICMR), shows that in the first 9 years after the disaster more than 12,000 persons died as a consequence of toxic exposure. Research by the Madhya Pradesh Government’s Centre for Rehabilitation Studies shows that one gas victim was dying untimely death every day as late as in 2001. Yet the Central government has presented a ridiculously low figure of 5295 as the death toll of the disaster”, said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that the Madhya Pradesh Government has agreed to make corrections in the figures of deaths and injuries caused by the Union Carbide in its petition before the Supreme Court. “The Chief Minister has twice written to the Prime Minister urging him to ensure that figures of damage wrought by Union Carbide in the curative petition are corrected. It is mainly due to the intransigence of Mr. Chidambaram that the Central government has not bothered to consider the gross errors in the figures of deaths and injuries in the curative petition”, Mr. Namdeo said.

Reiterating the organizations demands faxed this morning, Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha stated: “The Supreme Court is yet to hear the curative petition for enhancement of compensation and we still have a few months for the figures of death and injury to be corrected. This can only happen if the Central government including the group headed by Mr. Chidambaram agrees to make corrections in the curative petition in accordance with findings of medical research, hospital records and official documents.”

Miss Safreen Khan  of the Children against Dow Carbide said that she has started collecting erasers from school children which she will present to Mr. Chidambaram during his visit tomorrow. “The erasers from the children will remind him that he has some important corrections to make regarding Bhopal gas victims”, she said.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at]
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