Survivors in Bhopal mark 29 years since the Union Carbide gas disaster with marches, a torchlit rally and the burning of a Dow Chemical effigy.
Leaders of five organizations of the survivors of the disaster also presented their list of demands at a press conference. The leaders expressed hope that the soon to be elected government in the state as well as governments of USA and India would take action to end the disaster before it enters the fourth decade.
Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said that the US government must acknowledge and express regret for financing, through its EXIM Bank, the construction of the hazardously designed plant that caused the world’s worst industrial disaster.
She said that the US government must contribute to the end of the disaster by ensuring that Union Carbide Corporation and its officials cease to abscond from Indian courts, provide additional compensation for the survivors and clean up the toxic contamination in Bhopal.
Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha demanded that Dow Chemical must set aside sufficient funds for clean up of the contaminated soil and ground water in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory as well as for health monitoring of the affected population.
“Union Carbide must cease to abscond from justice and answer charges of manslaughter and grievous assault in the criminal case pending before the Bhopal District Court” he added.
Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha demanded that the government of India make corrections in the figures of deaths and injuries caused by the disaster in the curative petition before the Supreme Court of India for additional compensation from Dow Chemical and Union Carbide.
He also called upon the central government to set up an Empowered Commission on Bhopal with adequate funds, authority and participation of survivors’ representatives for medical, social, economic and environmental rehabilitation in Bhopal.
“A new government will be formed in the state two weeks from now. Our deepest wish is that this government makes a new beginning to end the ongoing disasters in Bhopal. We are calling for a closure before the disasters enter the fourth decade” said Safreen Khan from Children Against Dow Carbide.
The order on summoning Dow Chemicals to the Bhopal District Court, official acknowledgement of contamination of ground water in 22 communities, Supreme Court’s decision on regularization of employment of 50 women survivors after their 23 year long battle, near completion of piped water supply to contaminated communities, production of a commonly agreed Action Plan for remediation of the contaminated areas, issuing of notices by the Supreme Court regarding unethical clinical trials on survivors and punishment of corrupt medical research workers are some of the good things that have happened in 2013 according to Satinath Sarangi a member of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.