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COVID-19: Extending support to Bhopal gas tragedy victims

A group of college students in Bhopal have come up with the idea of helping Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims amid Coronavirus outbreak across the country.

Ankita, one of the volunteers explained the vulnerability of the gas tragedy victims to this viral infection, which inspired them to come up with the initiative to reach out to gas tragedy victims during the pandemic. Though anyone can get affected with Coronavirus, various reports on COVID 19 underlines that people with pre-medical history or conditions are more prone to the infection.

The Sambhavna Trust Clinic, established in December 1984, acharitable trust run by a group of doctors, scientists, writers and social workers in Bhopal suggested in its study that "the gas victims are twice as likely to die of cancers, diseases of the lungs and tuberculosis, three times as likely to die from kidney diseases and 63% more likely to have illnesses." Another study suggests that 50.4% of gas affected patients suffer from Cardiovascular problems, 59.6% of them suffer from Pulmonary problems and 15.6% of them suffer from Diabetes, which makes them five times more vulnerable to Coronavirus than the general population. Ankita and his fellow college- mates namely Rishav, Vishnukant, Kashif, Navneet Jha and Vishal Yadav, established YouthQuake Foundation, a non-profit society to extend their help to the youth.

These students are now reaching out to the people who are suffering because of the nationwide lockdown. While talking to Millennium Post, Ankita said that most of the gas victims are dependent on daily wages and due to total lockdown they are left with the last pile of ration. Ankita further mentioned that their team has researched andidentified around 100 gas tragedy victim families, which lack proper source of income due to lockdown. She said, "It was quite visible that the gas victim families are struggling to earn their daily bread. We sought data of the neediest from the vic-tims and begin with 70 families that required immediate help." The initiative started with a social media post, urging people to contribute raw food items or voluntary funds.

Fortunately, the efforts were noticed and people in large numberscame up to donate Rs 8000 along with 350 kg flour, 150 kg rice and 70 kg of oil and sugar, in the first go. So far, the students have reached out to the gas victims in Bhopal's J P Nagar and Oriya Basti to distribute the raw food material along with face masks. "We collaborated with a local grocery shop to distribute ration, so that people can come and collect it according to their need," said Ankita. "The campaign is still active and we are trying to collect more rationso that the supply chain may not break," she added.

Other than helping the gas tragedy victims, the students have claimed to feed more than 200 homeless twice a day and provide essential services to the people who cannot manage to step out by any means. As Ankita informed, they haven't received passes and have been ill- treated by the district administration. Despite the hurdles, students are determined to continue the initiative and help people till situations get better. The group of students, who themselves live far from their families, is keen to help others in the time of crisis as they see it as a part of their responsibility towards the society.

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