At a press conference on Monday the 3rd of November, representatives of five organizations of survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal announced their plans of an indefinite water-less fast at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi from November 10th on the issue of compensation.
They said that five women survivors will stop taking any food or water demanding additional compensation for all survivors of the disaster and correction of figures of death and extent of injury in the curative petition filed in the Supreme Court by the central government.
Rashida Bee, President, of a trade union of women survivors said that the ex-gratia compensation of Rs. 1 lakh was given to only 33, 672 survivors among the 5, 69, 081 people exposed to Union Carbide’s toxic gas. “There is no scientific or legal basis to deny additional compensation to 93 % of the victims. Our protest at Jantar Mantar is for additional compensation of Rs. 1 lakh for all gas victims” she said.
“The figures of death and extent of injury caused by Union Carbide in the curative petition are far lower than the findings of the Indian Council of Medical Research and other scientific agencies. The government is downplaying the damage caused by Union Carbide even when it is seeking additional compensation” said Nawab Khan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.
Said Balkrishna Namdeo, President of an organization fighting for social support for the needy “The government is seeking only 1.2 billion dollars as additional compensation in the Curative petition whereas it should be asking for at least 8.1 billion dollars from the American corporations.”
Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action said “The denial of proper compensation to the victims is a direct result of successive governments at the centre so far siding with Union Carbide. We will see whose side our new Prime Minister is on.”
“Just a month back we saw how keen our Prime Minister is about American corporations coming to India. We hope he is as keen to ensure that these corporations obey the laws of the country and pay adequate compensation. Bhopal is a good test for him.” said Safreen Khan, founder of the Children Against Dow Carbide.