The Madhya Pradesh government will prepare a fresh report on the economic, social and health conditions of Bhopal gas victims. The report, likely to be ready in a month, will also take stock of the existing infrastructure and economic rehabilitation process in the affected colonies.
Talking to HT, MoS for gas tragedy, relief, and rehabilitation Vishwas Sarang said that the department will take a fresh look at the problems faced by the gas victims and initiate various measures to ensure best healthcare and rehabilitation opportunities for them.
“Over three decades have passed since the incident. When I took over as the gas relief minister, I realised that we need to look afresh into the issues faced by the gas victims, especially on three fronts — economic, social and health”, he said.
“To fine-tune our initiatives, we need to have fresh data. During my inspection of hospitals, meant for Bhopal gas survivors, I saw many patients are suffering from the mental ailments. I feel there is a need to study the social aspects of the gas-affected people”, he said.
Sarang said the main study for the report will be conducted by Bhopal based National Institute for Research in Environmental Health.
Sarang, who was in Delhi recently, said that he has submitted an action plan in this regard to the Union ministry of chemicals and fertilizers and demanded a `100 crore grant for its implementation. “The survivors have been trying to lead a normal life for the last 30 years. I have seen their sufferings over the years. Now that I have got an opportunity to do something for them, I will leave no stone unturned,” said Sarang.
Bhopal gas activist Abdul Jabbar lauded Sarang for his efforts. “If the study is done in the right spirit, the government will come to realise what needs to be done to help the victims”, he said.
Rachna Dhingra from Bhopal Group for Information and Action said she hopes that the government will also look into the categorisation of the affected people.
“A large number of people have been categorised under minor injuries and very less numbers under severe disability. Besides, there is a discrepancy in death toll as recorded by the activists, central government and state government,” she said.
Battle for compensation
Nearly 5.74 lakh gas-affected people have received compensation of `50,000 in two installments, say gas activists. Of the 15,274 people who died in the tragedy, the kin of only around 5,000 have received `10 lakh compensation.
Bhopal gas activist Abdul Jabbar said initially only 1.02 lakh survivors and the kin of just over 3,000 victims were given compensation of `25,000 to `1 lakh, following a settlement between the Government of India and Union Carbide in 1989.
“But in 2010, a curative petition on additional compensation for survivors was filed by the Union government. However, family members of nearly 10,000 victims are yet to get `10 lakh compensation,” he said.