Five survivors’ organizations in Bhopal have condemned the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for not fulfilling promises made of carrying out beneficial medical research on the health conditions of hundreds of thousands of survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster.
The survivors condemned the ICMR for not fulfilling its promises of carrying out beneficial medical research. The organizations alleged that the report on the health conditions of the survivors released by the Director General of ICMR last week was based on fictitious data.
The organizations who have been campaigning for the welfare of the survivors for almost three decades are: the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, the Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children Against Dow Carbide.
The organizations highlight that the National Institute for Research on Environmental Health (NIREH) was set up by the ICMR in October 2010 to focus on research to benefit survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak. Since this time however, no research has been started in any of the ten areas identified.
The ICMR had promised that the NIREH would carry out research that will improve the treatment available to survivors of the disaster at the government funded gas relief hospitals. The survivors have accused the ICMR however of betraying the survivors by publishing the report focused on health conditions seen in survivors which lacked scientific rigour.
At a press conference, survivors revealed that although data on the health of survivors was proposed to be collected every six months, not a single survivor had been approached or had any interaction with researchers from the institute at all.
The groups disclosed that the report released by the ICMR was based on data from just one fifth of the proposed study population. Furthermore, the report is based on information on just 16 symptoms when data had been collected on 40 common symptoms found among survivors.
Insult to Injury
The organizations have said the ICMR had added insult to injury by granting legitimacy to a dubious report on the health status of the survivors who continue to suffer from the widespread effects of gas and water poisoning.
The organizations also presented data published in annual government reports to show how they were at variance with the data published in the newly released report by the ICMR.