Bhopal: Leaders of five organizations of survivors of the Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal have condemned the deliberate neglect of the central and state governments towards the curative petition for additional compensation from American corporations.
These organizations have also launched a postcard campaign requesting the Registrar of the Supreme Court of India for an early hearing on the curative petition against the Union Carbide and its owner Dow Chemical Company.
Addressing a joint Press Conference here on Thursday Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, who was honoured by the President of India with the "Women Achievers Award" last month, said: "It is now more than five years since the government filed the curative petition and there has been no hearing yet".
"It is indeed shameful that the government has not moved a single petition for urgent hearing on additional compensation. Meanwhile, victims of the disaster continue to die battling economic hardship caused due to exposure related ill health and paltry compensation", she added.
Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha, said that the government's neglect towards the legal rights of the Bhopal victims to adequate compensation is evident in its carelessness regarding figures of injury and death.
"Despite the central minister's promise made over an year ago, the figures of injury and death in the curative petition remain downplayed to a fraction of the actual damage", he said.
According to Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action, the government's submissions arguing for 1.2 billion dollars additional compensation before the Supreme Court run to 474 pages. In contrast, Union Carbide and Dow Chemical's arguments for holding the 470 million dollar settlement of 1989 to be full and final run to 3657 pages together.
"Its not just the number of pages, the quality of arguments and the presentation of facts too need much improvement, but most of all hearings on the curative must begin", he said.
Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that the most recent submission by the government is a 7 page affidavit containing grammatical and factual errors by an Under secretary of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
“This shows what a low priority matter the curative petition is for our governments", he added.
"The government's neglect towards preparing a sound case for additional compensation and towards having the petition heard are only benefitting the American corporations. The American President made a British corporation pay 20 billion dollars for 11 deaths. Why is our Prime Minister looking the other way when two American corporations are being asked to pay 5 per cent of that amount for over 25000 deaths by our government?, said Safreen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide.
Meanwhile, it may be recalled here that on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory had spewed poisonous Methyl Iso-cyanate gas whereby 3000 people had perished virtually instantly and over the years more than 25000 have kissed death and the sad saga is still continuing uninterruptedly. About half a million are suffering from the side effects of the poisonous gas and several thousand people have been maimed for life.(email@example.com)