03 Dec 2019, 10:53 AM IST1/535 years of grief, painHundreds of Bhopal Gas tragedy survivors on Sunday formed a human chain in protest here on the eve of the 35th anniversary of what has widely been acknowledged as the world’s worst industrial disaster.35 years ago,in what is considered as the world’s worst industrial disaster, over 25,000 people were killed after methyl isocyanate leaked on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in the city. More than five lakh people were affected due to the toxic leak.Children who were born after the incident were and are still being born with twisted limbs and other physical and mental deformities.PTI2/5Deadly contamination in soil, water and airVarious organisations fighting for gas leak survivors have been seeking proper medical care, adequate compensation and cleaning of the groundwater and soil which became contaminated after the incident.Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sanghathan (BGPMUS) Abdul Jabbar alleged that the toxic waste generated during UCIL’s operation from 1969 to 1984 was dumped in and around the plant, leading to severe soil and water contamination.The protesters on Sunday said the exposure to the toxic gas and the waste dumped in the premises of the defunct factory continued to cause them health problems.BCCL3/5Action by government awaited”Because of reckless dumping of extremely poisonous waste within the pesticide factory till 1984 and outside it in 1996, groundwater has been contaminated in places over four kilometres around it,” said activist Rashida Bi, who was accompanied by Champa Devi Shukla, a Goldman Environmental Prize awardee.
“Since 1990, groundwater has been tested some 16 times by government and non-government agencies. These have shown pesticides, heavy metals and poisonous chemicals, including six persistent organic pollutants, at depths greater than 30 metres and distances of several kilometers from the factory,” she alleged.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 population of nearly 100,000, is contaminated and continues to spread.”Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action said more than 10 thousand families were exposed to contaminated water over 20 years.BCCL4/5Organisations and volunteer groups seek justiceThe organisations namely Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush, Bhopal Group for Information and Action Sangharsh Morcha and Children Against Dow Carbide presented several documents obtained under Right to Information and addressed a press conference on the suppression of findings of a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that could be used to substantiate the curative petition for additional compensation for the disaster.
It is the responsibility of the state and Centre to force Dow Chemicals to compensate the victims, the activists asserted.”The documents we have obtained from NIREH (National Institute for Research on Environmental Health) this year show that its parent organisation, the ICMR decided to not publish the results of a study that found birth defects in babies of gas exposed mothers to be several times higher compared to those of non-exposed mothers,” said Rachna Dhingra, a member of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.BCCL5/5Twitteratis pay homage to the victimsPictures of survivors struggling to get and demanding compensation as well as the face of a half-buried dead child were posted on Twitter.One user wrote: “Lest we forget… 35 years ago, the epic disaster took place on the night of December 2-3, 1984, in the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. Over 25,000 people were killed and thousands left deformed. Kids are still being born with twisted limbs and other physical and mental deformities.”One user remarked: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”Another user said that the day was observed as National Pollution Control Day to commemorate those who perished in the disaster.Another post had a picture of then Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson along with the remark: “He did not deserve to die a natural death. Why are we so incompetent that we can never save our people? I see cases like these and I wonder should I still believe in God or not that such monsters were left unpunished.”Agencies