On December 3rd, four organisations for Bhopal survivors jointly held a mass rally for survivors, who marched through the streets of the city waving banners and placards detailing their demands for justice on the day of the 35th anniversary of the disaster.
The march started at Bharat Talkies cinema and wound through the streets of the city before ending with a rally at the site of the disaster, the abandoned Union Carbide chemical factory. The rally culminated in a 30 minute performance by children from gas-and-water affected communities depicting the plight, struggle, and determination of the people of Bhopal.
The banners and placards carried by the protestors demanded that Dow Chemical, of which Union Carbide is now a subsidiary, finally honour their legal responsibilities for the damage done to both the environment and people of the city. Many also targeted the government for their part in the disaster and their lack of accountability in the years that have followed.
The survivor’s complete demands on the 35th anniversary, courtesy of Rachna Dingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, are listed in full below:
1. Compensation: Union Carbide/Dow Chemical must pay a minimum of $8,000 U.S. to each Bhopal survivor as additional compensation for personal injuries as claimed in the Supreme Court of India. The Indian government must make Union Carbide/Dow Chemical pay compensation for health and environmental damage caused by contamination of soil and groundwater.
2. Criminal Punishment: The US government must serve the summons from the Bhopal District Court upon Dow Chemical without delay. The Indian government must ensure that the criminal trial of accused Indian corporate executives is concluded within the next six months.
3. Health care and Research: The Indian government must ensure that standardized treatment protocols are developed for gas exposure related to chronic diseases. The Indian government must establish a population based registry for all deaths, births and congenital malformations in the gas exposed families. The Indian government must ensure that NIREH (National Institute for Research on Environmental Health) fulfils its commitment to the Bhopal survivors by generating scientific information on the long term health damage by the gas disaster and most effective means of ameliorating them. The Madhya Pradesh state government must ensure that free medical care is available to residents who drank contaminated groundwater for six months or more.
4. Rehabilitation: The Indian and MP state governments must ensure that a monthly pension of Rs. 3000/- is paid to all women widowed by the disaster and all those left without means to support themselves as a consequence of gas exposure.
5. Clean Up: The Indian government must ensure comprehensive scientific assessment of the depth, spread and nature of soil and groundwater contamination in an around the abandoned pesticide factory. Union Carbide/Dow Chemical must pay for the clean-up of the soil and groundwater up to international standards. The state government must cease and desist from covering up the contamination by building a memorial to the disaster on top of the contaminated lands.