Bhopal: The pain and misery of the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial disaster, sees no end and has been transferred to their progenies. They continue to suffer, writhe in pain and agony in the face of governments’ apathy while counting days as to when their souls will be liberated from their poisonous gas-affected malfunctioning mortal remains.
About one hundred children from Bhopal, who have been affected by the Union Carbide’s poisons, demonstrated in front of the Prime Minister’s office last Monday, demanding medical care, rehabilitation and poison-free environment.
According to a press release these children wearing signs with words like “Insaaf” (Justice), “Izzat” (dignity) and “Humanity”, who are members of the Bhopal-based NGO Children Against Dow-Carbide, held a banner with their demands in front of the North Block office. The children said that this was the fourth time they were trying to draw the attention of the Prime Minister towards governmental inaction on environmental and health rehabilitation schemes in Bhopal.
“Since 2006, we have sought help from Prime Minster Dr. Manmohan Singh for the children of Bhopal who are still denied medical care and rehabilitation and who are still forced to drink poisoned water,” said Safreen Khan one of the founders of the Children Against Dow-Carbide which organized the demonstration. Safreen charged the Government with displaying more care for the financial health of Union Carbide and its owner Dow Chemical than for the children of Bhopal.
Manoj Yadav from the community affected by groundwater contamination by Union Carbide’s hazardous waste, said that while there were many children and adults with diseases caused by the poisons, they were denied free treatment at government hospitals.
Yasmin Khan whose parents were affected by the Union Carbide’s poisonous gases in December 1984 and now lives in the area with contaminated groundwater said that hundreds of children are being born with congenital malformations to parents with exposure to poisons. She said that the government has not made any arrangement to provide rehabilitation for these children. “The Government should ensure that these children get a fair chance at living a life of dignity,” Yasmin said.
Young leaders of the Bhopal children said that many of the congenital deformities are reversible. Corrective surgeries can help children with physical deformities. Some mentally- and physically-challenged children too can be helped to lead normal lives if special-care institutions are set up and run.
The children pointed out that despite a 2005 order of the Supreme Court of India the people living next to the Union Carbide’s abandoned pesticide factory were not being supplied clean water.
A child from these communities, Asma said that thousands of tonnes of toxic waste from the factory lie buried next to their homes. “The Prime Minister must make Dow Chemical clean up the poisons or they will continue to harm generations,” said Asma.
It may be recalled here that on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 poisonous methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas spewed from the Union Carbide pesticide factory killing 3,000 people instantly and 25,000 over the years. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer from ill effects of the gas till date.