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Bhopal gas victims to fast for compensation

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Bhopal, Nov:

Representatives of the Bhopal gas victims Friday said they will launch an indefinite hunger strike in New Delhi from Nov 10 demanding adequate compensation.

Photo Courtesy: ibnlive.in.com
Photo Courtesy: ibnlive.in.com

Leaders of five organisations of survivors of the 1984 disaster said the fast would be held near the Jantar Mantar monument from Nov 10.

They said the five women survivors who will take part in the protest will not even consume water, demanding additional compensation for all survivors of the disaster.

Toxic gas leaked from the pesticide plant in Bhopal of Union Carbide on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, killing more than 3,000 people instantly and thousands more over the years.

The world’s worst industrial disaster is again in focus following the death last week of then Carbide chief, Warren Anderson, who was declared a fugitive by an Indian court following the disaster.

The protesters said they want the figures of dead and survivors corrected in the curative petition filed in the Supreme Court by the central government.

Rashida Bi, president of a group of women survivors, said the ex-gratia compensation of Rs.1 lakh was given to only 33,672 survivors from among the 569,081 people exposed to the toxic gas.

“There is no scientific or legal basis to deny additional compensation to 93 percent of the victims,” she said.

“Our protest at Jantar Mantar is for additional compensation of Rs.1 lakh for all gas victims.

“The figures of dead and extent of injury caused by Union Carbide in the curative petition are far lower than the findings of the Indian Council of Medical Research and other scientific agencies.

“The government is downplaying the damage caused by Union Carbide even when it is seeking additional compensation,” said Nawab Khan, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.

Said Balkrishna Namdeo, who heads another group: “The government is seeking only $1.2 billion as additional compensation in the curative petition whereas it should be asking for at least $8.1 billion.”

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said: “The denial of proper compensation to the victims is a direct result of successive governments in New Delhi so far siding with Union Carbide. We will see whose side our new prime minister is on.”

Union Carbide came to a settlement in 1989 by paying $470 million to the Indian government. Critics have maintained that the amount is too low, and must be hiked.

(IANS)