To highlight their demand of enhanced compensation for all victims of Bhopal gas tragedy, survivors started an agitation at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Monday. Five women survivors launched an indefinite hunger strike while another 50 women sat on dharna with them.
To support these agitating women, around 1,000 survivors and their children have gathered at the venue, organisers said. The agitation, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the worst industrial disaster of the world (December 2/3), is being jointly undertaken by five survivors' organisations.
Starting Tuesday, the five women on hunger strike would give up water too, Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group of Information and Action (BGIA) told HT.
The major demands of the survivors 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.
Sarangi said currently, only 33,672 survivors out of the total 5,69,081 have been give ex-gratia compensation of Rs 1 lakh while the other 93% survivors (who had got Rs 25,000 as compensation earlier) have been left out.
Activist Balkrishna Namdeo said figures of death (5,295) and extent of injury caused by the Union Carbide presented in the curative petition by the central government are grossly downplayed. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had estimated the number of deaths till 1993 to be 12,000 and the figure has now risen to around 25,000. Similarly, almost all of 5.69 lakh survivors are still facing health complications because of the effect of the tragedy.
"The situation should be correctly put up in the court," activist Nawab Khan 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 crore) from the American corporations, leader of another organisation, Rashida Bi said.
Rachna Dhingra of BGIA said the Bhopal gas survivors recently had a meaningful discussion with Union chemicals and fertilisers minister Ananth Kumar and are hoping for a positive response from him.
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.