Five women survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy would start an indefinite hunger strike and go without water at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi from November 10. They will press for their demand of enhanced compensation ahead of the 30th anniversary of the industrial disaster.
The agitation would be organised under the joint banner of five survivors' organisations and hundreds of survivors would support the fast by sitting with the five women at the venue every day, representatives of the organisations said at a press conference on Monday.
The major demands are additional compensation of at least Rs 1 lakh for all identified survivors (over 5.69 lakh) and revision of the figures of death and extent of injury in the curative petition filed in the Supreme Court by the central government.
Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group of Information and Action (BGIA) said that at present, only 33,672 survivors out of the 5,69,081 have been given ex-gratia compensation of Rs 1 lakh while the other survivors (who had got Rs 25,000 as compensation earlier) have been left out.
He said figures of death (5,295) and extent of injury caused by Union Carbide presented in the curative petition are far lower than the findings of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and other scientific agencies. The death figure has risen to around 25,000 and almost all the 5.69 lakh odd victims are still suffering acutely. "Government should put across the correct position while demanding additional compensation through the curative petition, else it's of no use," he said.
The government is seeking only 1.2 billion dollars (Rs 6,000 crore) as additional compensation in the curative petition whereas it should be asking for at least 8.1 billion dollars (Rs 37,000 crores) from the American corporations, the representatives said.
The organisations also decried the apathetic attitude of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan towards their demands. "The CM had assured us in December 2011 that he would accompany us to the Prime Minister's office to put across our demands. He has never interacted with us since then," representative of one of the organisations," Balkrishna Namdeo said.
Rachna Dhingra of BGIA said this apathy has prompted them to take the agitation to Delhi. "The denial of proper compensation to the victims is a direct result of successive governments at the centre, so far siding with Union Carbide. We want to see whose side our new Prime Minister is on," she said.
Besides BGIA, the organisations joining the agitation are Bhopal Gad Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sanghash Morcha, Children Against Dow Carbide, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh and the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.