A report by a prominent research institute presented recently in the Madhya Pradesh High Court has shown that even 30 years after the gas tragedy, people in the affected areas continue to face almost two times higher disease burden compared to the residents of unaffected areas.
Also, deaths due to respiratory disorders in the affected areas were found three times higher than other areas. Respiratory disorders are the commonest afflictions found in gas victims.
The finding of the Bhopal-based National Institute for Research in Environmental Health (NIREH) — an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) organisation — seems to approve the claims of the organisations fighting for rights of the tragedy survivors.
The organisations have been claiming continuation of higher rates of mortalities and chronic disease burden amongst gas tragedy survivors and their progeny and demanding adequate medical care and compensation for them.
The quarterly report quotes the 48th round of survey conducted between February and June 2014 under the long-term epidemiological studies on health effects of Bhopal toxic gas exposure being conducted by ICMR.
The report was submitted in the high court in accordance with a Supreme Court directive in response of a petition filed by two gas survivors’ organisation issued in August 2012. The copy of the report was supplied by the institute to the petitioners’ counsel Rajesh Chand on Friday.
The NIREH report stated that in the severely exposed areas, 22.8% people were carrying disease burden compared to just 9.6% in control area (area not impacted by gas tragedy). The disease burden (morbidity) in moderately exposed areas was reported at 17.6% and that in mildly exposed areas at 18.2%.
It also showed that while the mortality rates (death figures) due to respiratory disorders in the affected areas was almost three times more (2.15/1000 population) compared to the non-affected areas (0.74/1000), the overall mortality rates were found almost similar in affected and unexposed areas (4.48 and 4.49 per 1,000 respectively).
NIREH director Anil Prakash told HT while it is clear that the morbidity and mortality in the populace in the affected areas was higher than in unexposed areas, the trend later leveled off during the last three to four years.