Bhopal's 24th anniversary rally honours its own
December 3, 2008
On the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster thousands of survivors along with neighborhood residents exposed to pollution from Union Carbide's chemical waste today marched in a rally to the abandoned factory that is the site of the world's worst industrial disaster. They burnt an effigy of Dow Chemical, the current owner of Union Carbide in front of the factory and held a public meeting where individual survivor activists were felicitated.
Leaders of the three organizations: Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action leading the 24th Anniversary rally warned the Central and the State governments that if the Empowered Commission for long term rehabilitation of the survivors and their children is not set up soon they will intensify their agitation in Bhopal and New Delhi.
They said that there were still over 100,000 people battling with chronic illnesses caused by Union Carbide's chemical poisons. Additionally an unusually large number of people are suffering from Tuberculosis, Diabetes and Hypertension and mental health problems as a consequence of toxic exposure. Government agencies such as the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies have reported that contaminated ground water is causing diseases of the lungs, eyes, skin and the digestive system in a population of over 25 thousand people living next to the abandoned factory.
Most worrisome is the fact of unusually large number of children in the affected communities with birth defects such as damaged brain, undeveloped limbs, cleft lip and missing palate and severe growth disorders. The organizations said that currently the government does not provide any help to thousands of children born with disabilities and the country's apex research body Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is yet top carry out studies on the effects on the next generation of Bhopal victims.
The organizations said that the state government has completely failed to provide economic and social rehabilitation to the victims and has caused more harm than good in the matter of the thousands of tones of hazardous waste dumped in and around the abandoned Union carbide factory. They said that they have a lot of expectations from the Empowered Commission on Bhopal for sustained medical, economic, social and environmental rehabilitation and they will not tolerate any delay in its setting up.
The organizations said that the support given to Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals by the governments of USA and India is the main cause for continuing injustice in Bhopal. Warren Anderson and the authorized representative of Union Carbide are still absconding from the criminal case on the world's worst industrial massacre. Violating principles of 'polluter pays' and that of 'successor liability' that are established both in USA and India, Dow Chemical continues to deny liability for the toxic contamination of soil and ground water in and around the factory in Bhopal.
On 3rd Dec hundreds of gas affected survivors and people affected by water contamination will stage a massive rally from Bharat Talkies to the infamous Union Carbide factory. Survivors' organisations will hold a public event to felicitate people who contributed significantly to the victory of the 2008 Bhopal to New Delhi Padyatra. Replicas of the iconic mother-and-child statue commemorating the disaster, and citations will be handed over to more than 100 people, including children who participated in the Padyatra.
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action