On the 38th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, thousands of victims protested at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday, demanding that the government should present accurate figures of deaths and health hazards caused by the disaster in the curative petition to be heard by the Supreme Court on January 10, 2023.
The petition, signed by 40,000 survivors of the tragedy, is seeking an additional compensation from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.
Advocate Karuna Nandi, who fought the Supreme Court case for the Bhopal gas victims, and Dalit labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur, along with other eminent personalities and common citizens, joined the protest at Jantar Mantar, demanding justice for the victims.
Rashida Bee, President of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, said, "93 per cent of the survivors of Bhopal gas have been placed in the temporary injury category. And only Rs 25,000 has been given as compensation. This is a kind of injustice."
On the occasion, Balkrishna Namdev, President of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha said, "The current chief minister had written to Manmohan Singh that the injuries suffered by the Bhopal victims were permanent, not temporary, as submitted in the curative petition. However, the state government has not yet reiterated this point before the Supreme Court."
Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said, "The Madhya Pradesh government in another case has told the Supreme Court that 15,242 people died due to the Bhopal gas tragedy. However, the state government failed to take steps to revise the incorrect figure of 5295 deaths presented in the curative petition.
"How can justice be done unless the Hon'ble Judges of the Supreme Court are apprised of the actual extent of damage caused by the disaster?," Rachna questioned.
Pointing out the difference in the amount of compensation demanded by the government and the victim associations, Shehzadi Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, said, "The government is demanding Rs 9600 crore as compensation from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical while we are demanding Rs 64,600 crore.
"The figures we have used to calculate the compensation amount are from official records and from the Indian Council of Medical Research, an agency of the Central government. This disparity between the survivors and the figures forwarded by the government shows an underestimation and insensitive approach on the part of the government while calculating the relief packages," Shehzadi added.
Rachna Dhingra, Shehzadi Bee and Rashida Bee met Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya, and apprised him about their present circumstances, presenting him a set of documents.
(WIth inputs from IANS)