Bhopal: Hundreds of survivors of 1984 Union Carbide disaster and those exposed to ground water contamination gathered outside BMHRC hospital on Sunday 19 June 2022 to meet Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare and Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers.
A delegation of 5 representatives met with the Minister and presented him with a memorandum and urged him to take immediate action on 5 crucial demands of the survivors of the disaster. They sought action on appropriate compensation, Clean up of toxic waste, Medical Care, Research, Mismanagement of BMHRC & Curbing corruption vis a vis misutilisation of funds meant to provide relief & rehabilitation to gas victims. The minister assured the delegation that BMHRC will be returned to its original glory and a medical college will be opened in the hospital. He also said that NIREH will be asked to carry out appropriate medical research on Bhopal gas victims and their children.
In December 2010 Government of India filed a curative petition with the Supreme Court seeking additional compensation from Union Carbide Corporation-USA and its owner Dow Chemical Company, USA. On several occasions in the last 12years we have repeatedly stated that the figures of deaths and injuries caused as a result of the disaster mentioned in this curative petition are neither correct nor scientific and need to be improved. In 2014 & 2015 Ministry of Chemicals also promised to correct these figures. She urged the minister to present the correct figures of deaths and injuries on the basis of hospital records of gas relief hospitals and BMHRC & research data of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the pending curative petition on additional compensation so that Supreme Court can take a appropriate decision in this crucial matter.
In 2018, the Supreme Court declared the groundwater of 42 communities situated around the Union Carbide factory to contaminated and unfit for drinking. Recent investigations have also revealed that the groundwater of additional 29 communities adjoining these 42 communities have been found to be contaminated with Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs are known to retain their toxicity for over a hundred years. Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha urged the minister to invite the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) who have offered to undertake the crucial job of comprehensive scientific assessment of the depth, spread and nature of chemical contaminants so that appropriate cost of clean up and remediation can be sought from Union Carbide & its owner Dow Chemical, USA under the internationally recognised principle of “Polluter Pays”
Nausheen Khan of Dow-Carbide Against Children said that, “due to administrative mismanagement in the last 12 years, Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC) has been proving to be a complete failure in providing proper treatment to Bhopal gas victims. There is an acute shortage of doctors and specialists, several crucial departments like Nephrology, Oncology, Gastrosurgery, Neurology are shut, lack of equipment, necessary tests and often crucial medicines are not available. Despite several discussions with the Director & ICMR officials no positive step has been taken by them till date. BMHRC hospital should be merged with All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhopal and its management should be changed so that that permanent solution to these problems can be found. Along with this she also demanded that vigilance investigation against BMHRC director for conducting illegal and unethical drug trials on Bhopal gas victims should be brought to a logical conclusion.
In October 2010, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) set up its 31st institute, National Institute for Research in Environmental Health (NIREH) in Bhopal to study long term damage to the health of those exposed to Union Carbide’s toxic gases and contaminated ground water disaster and their children and also provide treatment. It is a matter of regret that in the last 12 years no work has been done in this institute for the welfare of gas victims and since last 3 years this institute has completely abandoned its original purpose. In 2018 a study carried out by NIREH showed that birth defects in children being born to gas exposed parents were 7 times higher when compared to unexposed population, but unfortunately NIREH decided not to publish the results of this study. Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information & Action demanded from the minister that a scientific review of the last 12 years of this Institute should be done and instruction should be issued that institute should work for the fulfillment of its original purpose.
Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha informed that since the Union Carbide disaster, the Nodal ministry of Bhopal, Ministry of Chemicals have been providing aid from time to time to the Dept of Gas Relief, Govt of MP for the relief and rehabilitation of gas victims. The investigation done by the survivors groups on utilisation of this money reveals that in the the last 12 years that an amount of Rs 20 Crores has gone into corruption and more than 120 croes have yet to be utilised for the benefit of gas victims till date. He demanded from the minster that the funds made available by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers to Bhopal to Dept of Gas Relief & Rehabilitation, Govt of MP in the last 12 years should be investigated properly.