Bhopal gas victims plan 1000 RTI applications to PMO

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New Delhi, Apr 27 (UNI) At least a 1000 Right to Information (RTI) applications to the Prime Minister's Office are being planned over the next one week to seek information about the type of poison which leaked from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on December 3, 1984 and the reasons behind the decision to charge the gas victims for healthcare.

Activists associated with Bhopal gas victims are asking the commonman to file RTI applications by paying Rs 10. ''We are making them sign the application and handing over a receipt...they will be submitted together,'' said an activist.

The mass RTI campaign is part of the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy's stepped up efforts to seek justice, said Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action here.

About 50 Bhopalis, who marched 800 km from Bhopal to New Delhi 28 days ago, have also sought an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

''Two years ago, the Prime Minister had accepted our demands, but none of our issues have been resolved. Our first demand is that a special commission should be formed to take care of our medical expenses and the treatment,'' said Rashida Bee, a survivor and winner of Goldman award.

RTI activist Arvind Khejriwal said 23 years after the disaster, even the most basic information required to address the rehabilitation needs of survivors was not available. ''What poisons leaked that day; what has the government done to rehabilitate the victims; why are gas survivors being asked to pay for healthcare and why are childen still being born deformed...these questions are part of the RTI application which at least a thousand people will sign,'' explained Mr Khejriwal.

He said while the PMO was alerted about the request of Bhopal gas survivors and their kin to meet the Prime Minister on February 20, so far they have not been given an appointment. ''We will ask the PMO through the RTI to explain reasons behind the delay.'' Over 3,500 people died in the weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plant in Bhopal.

Activists claim more than 23,000 have died since then suffering from cancer and other ailments.

In 1984, Union Carbide had accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a USD 100 million charitable trust fund to build a hospital for the victims. The company was later taken over by Dow Chemicals.

Now Michigan-based Dow Chemical says it is not responsible for the clean up as it never owned or operated the plant.

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