Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan pays tribute to victims of the Bhopal Gas tragedy on its 36th anniversary in Bhopal on Thursday.(PTI)
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan pays tribute to victims of the Bhopal Gas tragedy on its 36th anniversary in Bhopal on Thursday.(PTI)

Shivraj Chouhan announces memorial for Bhopal gas tragedy victims

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made the announcement during an all-religion meet organised by the state government in Bhopal to pay homage to those killed in the gas leak from the Union Carbide factory.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Bhopal
PUBLISHED ON DEC 03, 2020 06:50 PM IST

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday announced building of a memorial for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims to ensure there is no recurrence of industrial disasters. He also announced the resumption of pension to widows which was not being paid to them since 2019.

The CM made the announcements during an all-religion meet organised by the state government in Bhopal to pay homage to those killed due to the leakage of highly toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from erstwhile Union Carbide factory on the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984.

More than 3,700 people were killed in the gas leak according to the state government records and more than 5.58 lakh others were affected.

“We have been mulling this for a long time but now time has come. We should build a memorial of Gas Tragedy in Bhopal at the earliest which teaches a lesson to the world that we should not make any such thing which proves disastrous for the entire world,” Chouhan said.

“By paying silent tributes to the victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy we wish to resolve to protect our environment to ensure that there is no recurrence of such a tragedy”, he added.

Also read: Bhopal gas tragedy: 36 years on, survivors still await justice

He said, “Our sisters who became widows due to tragedy whom we call Kalyani were getting Rs 1000 monthly pension but the same was discontinued in 2019 (during the then Congress government). The pension will be resumed immediately.”

Meanwhile, paying tributes to the tragedy victims four organisations of tragedy survivors ‘condemned the continued evasion of legal liabilities by Dow Chemical, USA for the ongoing damage to the health of the survivors and pollution of the local soil and groundwater’.

The organisations in a joint statement said they denounced the state and central governments for failing to make the corporation pay adequate compensation and denying the rights of the survivors to medical care and social support.

The organisations include Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children Against Dow Carbide.

“Dow Chemical’s market share that was down to 2.5 % in 2005 has steadily risen since 2015 to over 22% of the Indian market”, said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh.

However, she added, the monthly pension of Rs 1,000 for 5,000 women widowed by the disaster had been stopped since last December.

Alleging downplaying of figures of death of gas survivors due to Covid-19 by the Madhya Pradesh government, Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action, said “This is nothing new. Officials have been downplaying the figures of death and extent of health damage caused by Union Carbide and Dow ever since the morning of the disaster. The official figure of death is still five times lower than the actual and over 90 % of those exposed to Union Carbide’s gases have been categorized as needing just one visit to the hospital.”

Nawab Khan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said, “In the last ten years officials of the state and central governments promised in writing that they would revise the figures of death and health damage in the curative petition for additional compensation from the American corporations. These promises remain to be kept. Meanwhile, all official research on the long term health impact of the disaster has been stopped or suppressed.”

“The effect of the pandemic on the survivors in Bhopal and on people exposed to industrial pollution everywhere in the world has once again highlighted the urgent need for reigning in chemical corporations. In the last 36 years our institutions have failed to make Union Carbide and Dow Chemical heed the laws of the land.” said Nausheen Khan for the Children against Dow Carbide.

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