Government ignoring Bhopal gas tragedy survivors: Raja

March 31st, 2008 - 10:20 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy are living like orphans and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has let them down, Left Front leader D. Raja said here Monday. “When you look at the condition of the Bhopal victims, they are living like orphans. This is very painful and the UPA government has to be more sensitive,” Raja, national secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), told reporters.

He was speaking after meeting 50 Bhopal gas tragedy survivors, who are currently in Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and express their grievances.

The disaster occurred on the intervening night of Dec 2-3, 1984, when more than 40 tonnes of Methyl-Iso-Cyanate and other poisonous gases spewed out of Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 3,000 people were instantly killed.

Several thousand others were maimed for life and over 15,000 people have died since. It is considered one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

“It is distressing to see that the influence of multinational corporations is increasing on the policies of the government. Union Carbide is one of the most notorious multinational corporations in the world,” said Raja, a parliamentarian.

“People are being let down by the UPA government for no sin of theirs. There are many apprehensions in the minds of people. How long will the legal case go on? Whether the UPA government is determined to fight this case in the interests of the victims of the Bhopal tragedy? How long can Dow Chemical play with the lives of the people of Bhopal?” he asked.

Forward Block secretary G. Devarajan said that he would take up the issue in parliament.

After walking almost 800 km, 50 people, including survivors of the tragedy, their children, people exposed to contaminated drinking water and their supporters reached Delhi March 28.

“We were forced to undertake this gruelling walk because the PM failed to keep his word. This time, we are not going back until we get a public declaration from him that he will deliver on his promise,” said Hazra Bee, a survivor.

The group of 50 people is protesting since March 28 at Jantar Mantar. They have been demanding that a national commission be set up to implement rehabilitation schemes and environmental remediation for the survivors.

They also want a commitment from the government that it will pursue legal action against Dow Chemical that has taken over Union Carbide.

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