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Competing to be one-up on other

NGOs WORKING among the gas victims seem to be vying with each other to meet the Prime Minister and apprise him of continued agony of people they represent.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 20:52 IST

NGOs WORKING among the gas victims seem to be vying with each other to meet the Prime Minister and apprise him of continued agony of people they represent.

The favourable response to Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar, who is on a hunger strike demanding stalling of further construction of Sardar Sarovar dam, has worked as catalyst to their stepped up effort to reach out to Prime Minister with their demands.

But, more important than that it is a game of one-upmanship among them. Satinath Sarangi, Champa Devi Shukla, Rashida Bee and fellow activists, representing a conglomerate of four NGOs, undertook a foot march to Delhi and have been camping at Jantar Mantar by the side of NBA activist waiting for their chance to meet the Prime Minister. The meeting that was supposed to take place on Friday somehow did not materialise.

In the meanwhile, Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti (BGPSSS) convener Sadhna Karnik, who is also a member of CPM, got CPM general secretary Prakash Karath to write to Prime Minister on behalf of her outfit spelling out demands of the gas victims. She has also been waiting for her chance to meet the Prime Minister.

But, after media flashed the news of possible meeting of Sarangi and his aides with the Prime Minister on Friday, she announced her plan to visit Delhi on Sunday and said that she would meet the Prime Minister on Monday and the CPM leaders would arrange the meeting even without prior appointment.

Taking a dig at Sarangi and others, who had gone to Delhi on foot, she said ‘We shall go by train. Foot march to Delhi costs a little too much and we do not that much of money’.

A Central team comprising Principal Secretary and Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers is also arriving on April 18 to talk to BGPSS and CITU delegation on grievances and demands of gas victims, she informed.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan (BGPMUS) Abdul Jabbar, who was feeling left out amidst flurry of activities by the other NGOs despite a favourable decision by the Supreme Court allowing his outfit to scrutinize Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC) Trust, also planned a Delhi visit with activists of his outfit to meet the Prime Minister but later postponed the visit to April 17 probably for ‘strategic’ reasons.

Today, he announced to postpone the visit further till an appointment was received from the Prime Minister’s office. Obliquely referring to ‘show’ of other NGOs, Jabbar, who in a way stands synonymous to Gas in Bhopal, Jabbar said ‘ he did not want to complete a formality by handing over memorandum to the Prime Minister and would like a detailed discussion and prompt decision on issues of gas victims’, he said.

By the way, demands of all these NGOs are more or less the same. Provision of clean drinking water in areas adjacent to Union Carbide plant, cleaning up of Carbide plant, comprehensive rehabilitation of gas victims, extradition of Warren Anderson and further research on effects of MIC exposure on human body etc.

May be sudden spurt in activities by the NGOs sensitise the Union Government towards problems of gas victims, which has by and large been executing the Supreme Court orders on them so far.

First Published: Apr 16, 2006 13:18 IST