Hundreds of gas survivors form human chain to demonstrate distress over pending demands
   Date :02-Dec-2019

 
Staff Reporter :
 
On Sunday, hundreds of gas survivors formed a human chain near the long abandoned Union Carbide pesticide factory. Demonstrating on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal the victims demanded free health care, clean up of the contaminated lands and adequate compensation from Dow Chemical, current owner of Union Carbide. The organisations said that the MP government’s plan to build a memorial to the disaster at the factory site was but a cover-up for this ongoing crime against the environment and people. “It is because of the reckless dumping of extremely poisonous waste within the pesticide factory till 1984 and outside the factory in 1996, that the groundwater has been found to be contaminated in places over four kilometres from this factory.
 
Since 1990, the groundwater in and around the factory has been tested by eight government and eight non-government agencies and these have shown that pesticides, heavy metals and poisonous chemicals, including six persistent organic pollutants are present at depths greater than 30 metres and distances of several kilometres from the factory.” said Rashida Bee, who along with her colleague Champa Devi Shukla is a Goldman Environmental Prize awardee. Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said, “According to the latest study by the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, a Central government agency, the groundwater in 42 communities with a total population of nearly 1,00,000 is contaminated and it continues to spread.
 
The first thing that has to happen for ending this ongoing second environmental disaster in Bhopal, is a comprehensive scientific assessment of the area within 5 kilometres of the factory. Yet when we took the offer of officials of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) to carry out scientific assessment Minister of Environment refused to accept the offer saying foreigners should not be involved in this. Despite reports of extremely toxic chemicals in the groundwater by two Central government agencies–the Central Pollution Control Board and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute –the Central Government has refused to acknowledge the growing problem let alone act on it.”
 
“A study carried out by the State Government in 2005 showed that residents who were drinking the contaminated groundwater were suffering from diseases of the eyes, skin and the respiratory and digestive systems. Despite this over 10,000 families who were exposed to the contaminated groundwater for up to 20 years continue to be denied the facility of free health care by the state and central governments.” said Rachna Dhingra, a member of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action. Nousheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide said, “The polluter pays principle which is followed both in USA and India very clearly makes Union Carbide legally liable for clean up of the contaminated soil and groundwater and for health damages caused by toxic exposure.
 
Since taking over Union Carbide in 2001, Dow Chemical continues to hold the illegal position that it is not liable for the ongoing contamination. It is the responsibility of both the state and Central governments to make Dow Chemical pay for the clean-up and compensate the victims. Instead they are planning to pour concrete over the contaminated factory site and build a memorial to the disaster as a cover up for the corporations.”