Bhopal gas victims to support Hazare’s campaign

August 8th, 2011 - 6:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Aug 8 (IANS) Five organisations representing the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster Monday announced they will firmly support social activist Anna Hazare’s fight for a stringent anti-graft bill since it was corruption that denied them justice for 27 years.

Addressing a press conference here, representative of the five groups said demonstrations will be held at the Union Carbide factory site Tuesday to condemn the government’s Lokpal bill.

Survivors from Bhopal will be joining the agitations led by Hazare and hold solidarity action here from Aug 16 - the deadline set by Hazare for passage of a strong Lokpal bill.

The groups said a strong Jan Lokpal bill is required to deal with corruption at all levels, which has been, and continues to be a significant reason in the denial of proper medical care, rehabilitation and fair compensation to the victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster.

“For the last 27 years, we have been victims of corruption by prime ministers, chief ministers, state and central government ministers, Supreme Court’s and claim tribunal’s judges, bureaucrats of all ranks and other employees, government scientists and doctors, and it is time to start putting an end to it,” said Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA).

Balkrishna Namdeo, president of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, said that in the past 27 years, crores of public funds have been misappropriated every year in the medical care and rehabilitation of the Bhopal gas victims.

A former minister of gas relief in the Madhya Pradesh government, who had to resign for corruption, has now been rehabilitated in the cabinet, he said.

Rachna Dhingra of the BGIA said that irregularities in the purchase of medicines for gas victims is most illustrative of the failure of the existing systems to deal with corruption.

In December 2006, survivors’ organisations had carried out a citizens’ raid on two drug stores of the gas relief department, she said.

Based on the information collected during the raid, a submission was made to the Supreme Court in January 2007 noting that more than half of the medicines meant for gas victims were purchased from companies known to produce sub-standard medicines.

In March 2007, six survivors and supporters went on a 19-day fast, demanding supply of quality medicines and other improvements in medical care and rehabilitation.

While the protesters are still facing charges for attempted suicide, nothing has been done to improve the quality of the medicines or to take action against those responsible, she said.

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