At a press conference today, leaders of the five organizations of survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal charged the Madhya Pradesh government with criminal neglect in providing clean drinking water to neighbourhood residents of the abandoned pesticide factory.
They said that thousands of residents are forced to drink and cook with local ground water that is contaminated by the hazardous wastes from the abandoned Union Carbide plant. The survivors organisations who raised the charges were 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.
Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that despite a Supreme Court order of May 2004 and the intervention by the Monitoring Committee set up by the Supreme Court at least 800 families are being denied piped supply of clean drinking water as of today.
Sarangi who is also a member of the Monitoring Committee said that on 19th February 2013, Justice K K Lahoti, the Committee’s Chairman had given clear directions that the work of providing drinking water connections to all families that are resident of the 22 communities known to have contaminated ground water had to be completed by 30th July 2013.
Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that there were at least 1,000 people in Kainchi Chhola, Shiv Nagar and other areas whose houses were yet to be connected with pipelines. He said that homes of 3,000 people in Jaiprakash Nagar, Karim Baksh Colony, Shakti Nagar, Navjeevan Colony and other areas were connected with pipelines but they had no water supply.
Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said that hundreds of families in Prem Nagar, Shiv Nagar, Blue Moon Colony, Navjeevan Colony and Preet Nagar faced chronic shortage of drinking water because of low pressure of water that was supplied every alternate day.
Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that in November 2012 and again in January 2013 the Supreme Court had issued clear directions to ensure that sewage lines and drinking water lines are kept apart so that there are no risks of contamination. He said that despite these orders in Nawab Colony, Preet Nagar and Shivshakti Nagar, there are several places where sewage and drinking water lines are close to each other.
Safreen Khan a founder member of Children against Dow Carbide said that in June 2012 Justice Lahoti had reported to the Supreme Court that there was a great need for creating drainage in the areas being supplied with drinking water. She said that in the absence of drainage, large areas in Preet Nagar, Shankar Nagar, Blue Moon Colony, Nawab Colony, Gareeb Nagar and Sundar Nagar remain water logged and are a health hazard for thousands of residents.