On Friday 30th August 2013, thousands of survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today marched to the Chief Minister’s residence demanding that the state government walk its talk on the matter of additional compensation for death and injuries caused by the disaster.
Jointly led by five organizations, the marchers waved copies of official statements by the Chief Minister in 2010 and 2011 that call upon the central government to pay additional compensation to people injured by the disaster and to review the official estimate of the number of deaths caused by the disaster.
“In June 2010 the Chief Minister wrote to the Prime Minister calling for payment of Rs. 5 lakhs (approx £6,500) to each victim of the Bhopal disaster instead of Rs. 25 thousand that 93 % have got.” said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action. “In today’s demonstration we are demanding that the Chief Minister put the money where his mouth is and ensure that victims of the disaster each receive at least Rs. 5 lakhs from the state government.”
Mr. Balrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that while the Chief Minister asserts that 15342 died as a result of the disaster in his letter to the Prime Minister, the state government continues to present a figure of 5295 in the curative petition for additional compensation before the Supreme Court. “The Chief Minister must stop his double talk and issue directions for revision of the death count in the state government’s petition.” he said.
“It is time the Chief Minister stops making pre-election promises and fulfills the ones he made to the victims of the disaster in the state capital three years back. He should pay up or shut up.” said Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.
Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha held the state government primarily responsible for the low compensation amount that the victims of Bhopal have received. “Contrary to Union Carbide’s own information that methyl isocyanate causes permanent damage, the state government’s Directorate of Claims categorized 93 % of the victims as only temporarily injured and deprived them of their rightful compensation.”
Safreen Khan, founder of the Children against Dow–Carbide, called upon the Chief Minister to act on his promise of accompanying the representatives of the survivors’ organizations to a meeting with the Prime Minister on the issue of additional compensation to the victims of the Bhopal disaster. “Both the governments at the state and the centre have betrayed the victims of Bhopal. Both governments need to make amends for their historic betrayal.” she said.