At a press conference today, leaders of four organisations of survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster called upon central and state governments to revise the figures of death and illness caused by the disaster before the Curative Petition for additional compensation is heard by the Supreme Court next month. The leaders said that representatives of both BJP and the INC have promised Rs.5lakhs as compensation for each Bhopal victim but this promise cannot be fulfilled unless the governments they run at the centre and the state respectively present correct figures of deaths and illnesses before the apex court.
“In December last year we requested the Prime Minister to direct the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, the nodal ministry on the Bhopal disaster, to amend the Curative Petition so as to present figures of death and illnesses in accordance with scientific facts and official records.”said Rashida Bee, president of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh. She said that so far they have not received an acknowledgement from the PMO, let alone a reply to their letter.
Nawab Khan, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha narrated a similar experience with the letter the four organisations wrote to the Chief Secretary of the state government in January this year.“ In our letter we listed out the documentary evidence that points to deliberate attempts by the state government to mislead the Supreme Court on the matter of deaths and illnesses caused due to exposure to methyl isocyanate gas in December 1984.We requested him to direct the Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief & Rehabilitation to provide correct figures of deaths and illness from official reports and hospital records. But he has neither acknowledged receiving the letter nor sent a reply so far.”
“In January we also wrote to the Minister of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief & Rehabilitation not only to obtain correct figures of death and injuries but also to communicate these revised figures to the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers. We have not heard from him yet. His continued silence on this matter is particularly intriguing because he claims he consistently raised the matter of Rs.5lakhs compensation to each Bhopal victim in the legislative assembly while he was in the opposition.” Said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
Nausheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide said “It is indeed very frustrating to correspond with insensitive officials running apathetic governments. Personal meetings are no better. We sought an appointment with the Chief Minister when he met him briefly on February 20th and 27 that his residence and all we have got so far are empty assurances.”