Bhopal victims protest for clean water
Hundreds of residents of the area around the abandoned Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on Monday demonstrated at the Directorate of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation demanding free medical care and rehabilitation, adequate supply of clean drinking water at minimum cost and effective drainage system in their area.
The demonstration was led by five organizations of the city that are working for the welfare of the survivors of the December 1984 gas leak from the Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal.
Leaders of the organizations handed over a memorandum with their four demands to the Commissioner, Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation during the three hour long demonstration that included a photo exhibition on the problems of toxic pollution.
The organizations said that the Madhya Pradesh government's Public Health and Engineering Department had declared the ground water near the Union Carbide factory to be chemically polluted as early as 1991.
In 2006, the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, a scientific agency of the state government had highlighted that in comparison to an unexposed population, the residents of the communities affected by contamination of ground-water had higher incidence of illnesses of the lungs, eyes, gastro-intestinal system and skin.
The organizations stated that as per the latest report of the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow of January 2013, about 50 thousand people in 22 communities were affected by the contamination of ground-water due to hazardous waste from the Union Carbide factory.
The residents demanded free medical care at the hospitals meant for gas victims for the illnesses caused by chronic exposure to Union Carbide's poisons in their drinking water.
They also demanded free facilities for medical rehabilitation of the hundreds of children who were being born with disabilities as a consequence of the slow poisoning of their parents.
The organizations complained that despite several orders of the Supreme Court of India, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department of the state government had failed to complete the project of supplying clean drinking water through pipelines to every family affected by toxic contamination.
They complained that 60 families in Annu Nagar, 15 in Shankar Nagar and 5 families in Shiv Nagar did not have tap connections and hundreds of families in Jayprakash Nagar, Karim Baksh Colony, Shakti Nagar, Kainchi Chhola and Shiv Nagar were not being supplied with water in the newly connected taps. Likewise in hundreds of homes in Jayprakash Nagar, Kainchi Chhola, Preet Nagar, Shiv Nagar and Shakti Nagar, the water pressure is so low that people do not have adequate amount of water for their basic needs.
The organizations pointed out that families in the area affected by contamination of ground water due to Union Carbide's hazardous wastes are being served with bills worth thousands of rupees as payment for water supply.
They said that the state government that was aware of the toxic contamination as early as 1991 must accept its role in the ongoing environmental disaster and ensure that beneficiaries of clean water supply are made to pay only the minimum amount of Rs.30 per month.
The residents complained that because of the absence of drainage facilities areas like Nawab Colony, Blue Moon Colony, Annu Nagar, Sundar Nagar, Shiv Shakti Nagar, Preet Nagar and Shiv Nagar remained waterlogged causing a public health problem due to malaria and other diseases.
They demanded that state government make arrangements for adequate drainage as per the recommendation of the Supreme Court appointed Monitoring Committee led by Justice K.K. Lahoti.
(Posted on 17-02-2014)