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HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

Life remains toxic for children of Bhopal gas victims

Sravani Sarkar, Hindustan Times   November 28, 2012
First Published: 09:32 IST(28/11/2012) | Last Updated: 12:28 IST(28/11/2012)

Vikas Yadav, 13 and younger brother Aman, 11 of JP Nagar can't walk, talk or comprehend much.

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At Kapila Nagar, five-year old Taiba's condition is almost as bad. The little girl cannot stand and talks only in monosyllables.

At nearby Qaziq Camp, 27-year-old Ishrat (daughter of Kader Khan Sheezgar) is both hearing and speech impaired and suffers from several other health complications.

And none of them were even born when the deadly fumes of methyl iso-cyanate enveloped Bhopal on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. The only thread that binds these individuals is that their parents had been exposed to the noxious fumes on that terrible night.

Vikas, Aman, Taiba, Ishrat and hundreds of others like them are not considered victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, although multiple researches after the tragedy proved that children of exposed parents were susceptible to slow or deformed physical and mental growth.

Thus, these unwary victims have never received any economic or medical aid, apart from free treatment for mundane diseases because their parents are gas victim cardholders.

And even when both the Union and the state governments filed curative petitions in Supreme Court for enhancement of compensation to the victims, the issue of these second or third generation sufferers was never taken up.

The attitude of the state government is clear from the response of Babulal Gaur, the minister for gas relief and rehabilitation. "We do not have any case of second generation victims - like you call them, before us. If there are people suffering, and we don't want anyone to suffer, let them come before us. There are lot of hospitals in Bhopal and they could be taken care of. This is a non-issue," he said talking to HT.

However, the government in the state did not think so about two decades ago. Between 1992 and 1997, 14 children had received official assistance for heart surgery and 13 kids received assistance in diagnosis for congenital brain anomalies under a MP government programme called SPARC (Special Assistance To At Risk Children). The programme was suddenly withdrawn in 1997,citing financial constraints.

Even before that, in a judgment dated October 3, 1991, the Supreme Court had directed the Government of India to ensure medical insurance coverage to 1,00,000 children born to gas-affected parents. Not a single child was ever provided that coverage.

"These indirect victims have been worse sufferers of the tragedy because they never got any relief and no one has ever paid any attention to their needs," said Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group of Information and Action.

He added that since their parents are themselves exposed, mainly poor and often unable to work, treatment of these second generation victims become very difficult and sometimes impossible.

The research:
* A research article titled Effects of Exposure of Parents to Toxic Gases in Bhopal on the Offspring, published in American Journal of Industrial Medicine in March 2010, showed that male offspring of exposed parents or those persons exposed while in womb were stunted in growth and puberty.

* Another paper titled Mmethyl Iso-Cyanate Exposre and Growth Patterns of Adolescents in Bhopal published in Journal of American Medical Association, showed growth retardation in boys who were either exposed as toddlers or gases or were born to exposed parents.

* A paper Frequency of Acrocentric Associations in Bhopal Gas Tragedy Survivors in International Journal of Cell & Molecular Biology showed that the exposed persons were susceptible to genomic instability and many exposed women gave birth to down's syndrome babies.


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