33 years... still awaiting justice

The 33rd anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy was as usual marked by angry protests, demonstrations and burning of the effigies of the central and state governments as well as Union Carbide, but division among those who pursue justice for the victims turned out to be an eyesore.

Separate protests were held by several organisations claiming to be champions of the gas survivors. Besides several non-NGOs, the state government also organised a prayer meeting in the presence of the chief minister and representatives of various religions.
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In fact, division among the champions of the gas victims has weekend the cause of the survivors and helped the owners of the Union Carbide, and the central and the state governments.
With the wheels of justice still unmoved even after 33 years of the disaster, thousands of survivors and activists took to the streets to condemn government inaction and apathy. Nothing much has changed after three decades as the victims of the "world's worst disaster" are still fighting for adequate compensation and proper medical treatment for ailments caused by the toxic leak. On the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, toxic methyl isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide Corporation's pesticide plant here, killing and injuring thousands. Lakhs of people are still affected and many are dying. The victims have not been paid adequately by US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), now owned by Dow Chemicals.
The victims of the ghastly disaster reiterated their five-point demands – adequate compensation, clean-up of hazardous waste lying in the UCC plant site, rehabilitation of survivors, pension to gas victims with proper medical facilities and exemplary punishment to Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.
Thousands of survivors participated in the protest march organised by five NGOs –Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children against Dow /Carbide. They marched to Union Carbide Plant (UCC) and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan calling them 'puppets' of MNCs.
The Bhopal Group for Information and Action's Satinath Sarangi said it's high time that the Central and the State governments ensured that the victims got justice at the earliest. While Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan held a public meeting at Yadgar-e-Shahjahani Park criticising the governments for not accepting the genuine demands of gas victims. Sangathan convener Abdul Jabbar alleged that the government was not accepting the demands just to convince the MNCs to invest in the country. "It is a very dangerous thing. The survivors were suffering from many diseases, including cancer, tumours, kidney and lung problems, caused by the inhalation of the poisonous gas three decades ago and they need proper medical treatment," he added.
Nawab Khan, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, targeted the CBI saying that the agency has failed to make Dow Chemical, owner of Union Carbide, appear in the Bhopal court.
Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangarsh Sahyog Samiti's poet Rajesh Joshi condemned the announcement by Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vishwas Sarang to build Hiroshima like a memorial of gas victims.
"Gas victims are not getting proper medical facilities, pension, and employment but the minister is going to spend crores of rupees in building a memorial. Such memorial will showcase nothing bust foolishness of state government," said Joshi. The state, as well as Central governments, should focus on providing basic facilities and proper compensation to gas victims, he added. Vishash Sarang, in October 2016, had said, "Like Hiroshima Memorial, a memorial of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy will be built."
After the 3rd December 1984 tragedy, many schemes were announced. They included the establishment of hospitals and clinics. A big hospital in the name of Bhopal Memorial was established under the chairmanship of Justice AM Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of Supreme Court, but at present, it is in a bad state. Several clinics and hospitals were also established by the state government, but they are lacking in basic facilities. Many schemes were also announced to provide employment to the survivors of the tragedy but most of them still remain on paper.
There was a scheme for providing pension for the widows of the victims, but it was discontinued in 2016. The chief minister has now announced a resumption of the
pension scheme.