Today, 25th February, organisations representing survivors of the Bhopal Disaster held a press conference calling on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief Minister to honour a pre-election promise of greater compensation.
As a part of their “Intezaar-E-Insaf” (Waiting for Justice) programme, they challenge the minister to address a gathering of an expected 1,000 survivors at the city’s Neelam Park on February 26th.
The groups further call on the Minister to set in motion the process of instructing the Supreme Court with respect to the correct figures of dead and injured resulting from the disaster. A ‘Curative petition’ is due to be heard in the Supreme Court this April with the Government of India seeking an additional $1.1 billion dollars. The survivors’ groups challenge the Government to use its own, previously published, figures (Indian Council of Medical Research, epidemiological report, 2004) for the dead and injured which would require a settlement of $8.1billion.
Rashida Bee President of the BGPMSKS (Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh) said, “As leaders of survivors’ organizations we sought time from Arif Bhai to apprise him with our long-standing demand on Rs. 5 lakhs compensation for each survivor of the gas disaster. Before he got elected, he had supported this demand. Arif Bhai said you gather 500 survivors and then I will come myself and talk to all of you. We even have a recording of this conversation”
“We also have evidence of Mr. Aqeel specifically supporting our demand of minimum Rs. 5 lakhs as compensation for each survivor of the gas disaster, before the election in November 2018. Now that he has been elected, we wish to know what he has done to ensure that most of the survivors who have got just Rs. 25 thousand as compensation so far, can get Rs. 5 lakhs as compensation — their just due.” said Nawab Khan of the BGPMPSM (Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha).
Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action said that the Minister needs to immediately issue instructions for revision of figures of deaths and injuries caused by the disaster in the Curative Petition for additional compensation for the gas disaster. “The Petition is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court in April and the process of revising must begin now.” she said.
“We expected the newly elected government to be more responsive than the previous one. So far, we are rather disappointed. Our letters to the Chief Secretary and the Honourable Minister sent last month remain unanswered. We hope the Minister will come tomorrow to speak publicly about keeping his pre-election promise.” said Nousheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide.