15 The Indian Government’s response

From Sathyu’s Introduction to Bhopal for Young People

Instead of helping the people of Bhopal, the Indian Government put more energy and effort into downplaying the disaster. Top officials in the state government asked truck drivers to carry large numbers of dead bodies and dump them in the river and inside forests. The government passed a law by which it appointed itself the only legal representative of the victims and asked for $3.3 billion from Union Carbide. However, they later agreed to settle with the corporation for just 470 million dollars, about one-seventh of that amount.

The government set up a number of hospitals but did not care about the fact that there were no proper doctors, medicines or equipment in these hospitals for providing safe and effective treatment. Today, in 2011, people are thoughtlessly given antibiotics, steroids, psychotropic and other potentially harmful medicines. Likewise the Indian Government spent millions of rupees (from the taxes people all over the country paid) on building worksheds where gas-exposed people could be employed in safe and not so physically demanding jobs. However, government officials showed little interest in providing alternative employment and hardly any one was givena job. In May 2004, the state government was ordered by the Supreme Court of India to supply safe water to the communities next to the Union Carbide factory but still today some people there are forced to drink contaminated water from handpumps. The main reason that the government, irrespective of the political party in power, has been negligent towards the Bhopal people is that majority of the victims are poor people who do not have a say in the way the government is run.

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We believe Dow & DuPont must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.