Stoicism is a way of life for the survivors of the Bhopal Gas tragedy. But they were offended after health minister Narottam Mishra said on Tuesday that the Madhya Pradesh government has accomplished all welfare tasks for gas disaster victims.
This, they say, is painful considering there have been no significant change in their lives, more than three decades after the world witnessed one of the worst industrial disasters due to leakage of the poisonous gas — methyl isocyanate — on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984.
The leakage of about 40 tonne of methyl isocyanate from a storage tank of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) had killed more than 20,000 people and seriously injured more than 1.5 lakh.
“The minister’s statement hurt us because we are still living a miserable life… There is no cleanliness, road and sewerage system in our colony. We are not getting proper medical facilities. Many of us face financial problems,” Naseem Bi, 45, a resident of Gas Widow Colony, says.
“The state government has failed to address sensitively a host of socio-economic problems confronting the chronically sick, the elderly, the disabled, the widowed, and other vulnerable sections among the gas-victims,” Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan (BGPMUS) convener Abdul Jabbar says.
“The persistent apathy of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Madhya Pradesh government in monitoring the health status of the Bhopal gas victims is shocking to say the least.”
Though the Centre released Rs 272 crore for rehabilitation, nothing substantial has happened, Bhopal Group for Information and Action activist Rachna Dhingra says. “Instead of spending money for welfare of the people, a scam took place with the money (meant for the gas tragedy survivors). The health minister never showed any concern for victims and didn’t even try to discuss the problems,” she claims.
On the 31st anniversary of the Bhopal Gas tragedy, Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS) co-convener ND Jayprakash feels a systematic healthcare system exclusively for the survivors can go a long way to alleviate their overriding pain.
“The computerization of health records and networking of the records of the various hospitals and clinics treating gas-victims as well as providing each gas-victim with his/her complete medical records is a prime necessity,” he says.