A group of local residents in the vicinity of the abandoned Union Carbide factory, who are allegedly facing health hazards owing to toxic wastes in and around the factory premises, demonstrated at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Bhopal on Thursday.
They demanded free treatment, clean drinking water and exemption from water bills from the state government.
Toxic gas escaped from the Union Carbide factory on the intervening night of December 2/3, 1984, killing hundreds and maiming thousands for life. Following a May 2004 order of the Supreme Court, in August 2014, 10,000 families were provided with connections for supply of drinking water by the state government.
But the supply continues to be erratic, inadequate and of poor quality, the demonstrators under Union Carbide Water Affected Struggle Front (UCWASF), said.
They handed over a memorandum of demands addressed to the state minister for Bhopal gas tragedy relief & rehabilitation, Narottam Mishra.
They pointed out that the 2013 report of the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, has identified 22 localities where groundwater is contaminated by toxic waste and its prolonged use for drinking has led to diseases of liver, kidneys, lungs, brain and increased birth defects and cancers.
The protestors said over 5 lakh survivors of the tragedy are being provided free health care by the government, but the 10,000-odd families who have been slow-poisoned by groundwater continue to be denied free medical treatment.
Citing a 2009 report by the state government-run Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, demonstrators like Sunita Bai of Shiv Nagar and Iqbal Khan of Nawab Colony said the residents of the affected communities have a higher incidence of gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases in comparison to an unexposed population.
“The government must make special arrangements for rehabilitation of for children born with disabilities because their parents were exposed to contaminated water and soil,” said Shehzadi Bee of Blue Moon Colony.