March, burning effigies, rally mark Gas tragedy anniversary

Bhopal: With wheels of justice still unmoved even after 33 years of Bhopal Gas disaster, thousands of survivors and activists took to the streets on Sunday to condemn government inaction and apathy. Angry protests were witnessed in state capital on Sunday as the city marked the 33rd anniversary of the gas tragedy that killed thousands. Nothing much has changed after three decades as the victims of the “world’s worst disaster” are still fighting for adequate compensation and proper medical treatment for ailments caused by the toxic leak. Seeking justice, the victims took out protest march, held public meetings and burnt effigies of State and central governments and also the Union Carbide Corporation for their apathy and inaction.

On the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, toxic methyl isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant here, killing and injuring thousands. Lakhs of people are still affected and many are dying. The victims have not been paid adequately by US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) now owned by Dow Chemicals. The victims of the ghastly disaster reiterated their five-point demands– adequate compensation, clean-up of hazardous waste lying in the UCC plant site, rehabilitation of survivors, pension to gas victims with proper medical facilities and exemplary punishment to Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.

Thousands of survivors participated in protest march organised by five NGOs –Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children against Dow /Carbide. Seeking justice, thousands marched from Bus Stand to Union Carbide Plant (UCC) and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan calling them as ‘puppets’ of MNCs like UCC and Dow Chemical.

Reiterating their 5-point demands, the Bhopal Group for Information and Action’s Satinath Sarangi said t it’s high time that the Central and the State governments ensure that victims get justice at the earliest. While Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sagathan held a public meeting at Yadgar-e-Shahjahani Park criticizing the governments for not accepting genuine demands of gas victims.

Sagathan covener Abdul Jabbar alleged that the government is not accepting the demands just to convince MNCs to invest in the country. “It is very dangerous thing. The survivors were suffering from many diseases, including cancer, tumours, kidney and lung problems, caused by the inhalation of the poisonous gas three decades ago and they need proper medical treatment,” he added.

Nawab Khan, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha targeted CBI saying that the agency which is directly under the Prime Minister has failed to make Dow Chemical, owner of absconding Union Carbide, appear in the Bhopal court. Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangarsh Sahyog Samiti’s Poet Rajesh Joshi condemned Bhopal Gas Tragedy relief and rehabilitation minister Vishwas Sarang who announced to build Hiroshima like memorial of gas victims.

“Gas victims are not getting proper medical facilities, pension, and employment but minister is going to spent crores of rupees in building a memorial. Such memorial will showcase nothing bust foolishness of state government,” said Joshi. The State as well as Central governments should focus on providing basic facilities and proper compensation to gas victims, he added. MoS Vishash Sarang, in October 2016, had said, “Like Hiroshima Memorial, a memorial of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy will be built.”