New Delhi, Mar 30: Bhopal gas tragedy victims staged a protest march here on Saturday, and sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in their "fight for justice." "Firstly, we demand the Prime Minister to set up a special commission to look after the rehabilitation of victims and their medical requirements, and secondly we want a legal action against the companies like Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals that are responsible for the pathetic condition of the victims," said Satinath Sarnagi, a demonstrator.
Over 23 years after the one of the world's worst industrial disasters, victims of the Bhopal gas leak have stepped up their campaign for justice. At least 50 survivors of the Bhopal gas leak are camping here after a 37-day march from Bhopal. This was for the second time that the victims were undertaking the grueling 800-kilometer trek from the Bhopal to the national capital. More than 3,500 people died in the days and weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plan in Bhopal on the night of December 2, 1984. According to an official estimate, around 15,000 people have died since then due to cancer and other diseases.
However, activists put the death toll at 33,000, and say that toxins from thousands of tonnes of chemicals lying in and around the mishap place have seeped into ground water.
Union Carbide in 1984 accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a 100 million dollar charitable trust fund to build a hospital for victims. Later Union Carbide was taken over by Dow Chemicals.
The company also paid 470 million dollars to the Indian Government in 1989 in a settlement reached after a protracted legal battle. The victims, on an average, received 25,000 rupees in case of illness and 100,000 rupees or so in case of a death in the family.