Bhopal gas victims protest, demand compensation

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 02, 2012 14:50 hrs

Surviving victims of 1984 gas leak tragedy from the plant of Union Carbide in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, staged a protest rally at which they demanded adequate compensation and benefits.

In the early hours of December 3, 1984, a pesticide factory owned by the US multinational Union Carbide accidentally released about 40 metric tonnes of deadly methyl isocyanate gas into Bhopal's atmosphere.

The wind carried the gas to surrounding areas - mainly densely populated slums - exposing around half a million people.

The government says the disaster killed around 3,500 whereas the civil society and other social activists assess that 8,000 people died in the immediate aftermath and thousands have died of illnesses related to gas exposure in the years that followed. In a nutshell, they say at lease 25,000 people have died since 1984.

Protesters were seen torching an anti-Dow effigy and carrying banners demanding adequate compensation.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, agitating protesters said that the government and Dow chemicals have failed to provide adequate compensation.

"We are protesting at the rally today and also burning effigies. So many years have gone by; however we have still not being given our due. We condemn this and we are fighting for adequate compensation. Dow chemicals gave us no compensation and now the federal government is also turning a deaf ear to our demands. We demand that some of us should also been given a monthly pension because of the way the gas leak has affected us. We will continue this fight even in the court; we will agitate in New Delhi as well. We will fight till the last to get our rights," said surviving victim of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, Rampyari.

A recent study conducted by one of India's leading think-tanks, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has confirmed the presence of toxic chemicals in drinking water and says it is slowly poisoning thousands more people.

The CSE report contradicts the government's findings, saying samples taken from around the factory site were found to contain chlorinated benzene compounds and organochlorine pesticides 561 times the national standard.

Samples taken as far as 3 km (1.9 miles) away from the plant were found to have toxic chemicals 38.6 times more than the standard. The report said there could be no other source of these toxins than Union Carbide. (ANI)

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