On the eve of International Yoga Day, survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy held a demonstration outside a non-functional Yoga Centre on Itwara Road here to protest the denial of yoga therapy benefits to them despite seven centres being set up for this purpose.
The survivors, led by five organisations working for them, performed yoga before the centre in a symbolic protest to draw attention towards the misutilisation of state government funds meant for the survivors' medical rehabilitation.
Six out of the seven yoga centres in the city, which were handed over to the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) in October last year by the gas relief and rehabilitation department, remain non-functional.
Built at a cost of Rs 4 crore, these centres are used by the BMC as their administrative ward-level offices and as marriage halls, the organisations alleged.
Satinath Sarangi, of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action, said, “Much of the state government's hullabaloo on yoga is nothing but a charade. Its officials and ministers are too busy earning commissions on purchase of medicines and building of yoga centres to be actually providing yoga benefits to survivors still waiting for medical treatment.”
According to the organisations, it was only after they sat on a 19-day hunger strike in February 2007 that the state department agreed to provide the survivors with yoga therapy, starting it part-time out of six gas relief hospitals.
But even these were arbitrarily closed down in 2009 despite the fact that in those two years, more than 2,000 gas patients reported relief for problems such as breathlessness, joint pains, back ache, menstrual irregularities, insomnia and other chronic ailments without taking steroids, painkillers and psychotropic medicines.
After getting central government funds in 2010, the gas relief and rehabilitation department constructed the seven centres but handed them over to the BMC last year. The centres have remained non-functional since, and survivors have demanded immediate steps to start therapy there.
Meanwhile, activist Abdul Jabbar, who has been repeatedly petitioning the state government and the Supreme Court appointed monitoring committee in the matter, also decried the apathetic attitude of the government towards therapy of survivors.