Survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy launch weeklong protest

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Bhopal, Nov.28 (ANI): Ahead of 25th anniversary of Bhopal gas tragedy, survivors of the tragedy have launched a week-long protest to vent their ire against the inaction of the State government to remove the toxic waste from the vicinity of Union Carbide's plant where the gas leak took place.

The survivors of the tragedy, through this protest intend to vent their ire against the State government for its inaction in clearing the toxic waste from the vicinity of Union Carbide's plant where the gas leak took place in 1984.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action, have joined hands with the victims of the tragedy to belie the government's claim that the waste is not hazardous through the protest.

The protest has been named 'Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kate' (a traditional saying in Hindi to mean that the crow bites the liar).

"There is a saying that the crow bites those who lie. So, we want to show that how the Madhya Pradesh government, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Babulal Gaur are saying that in Bhopal nobody is sick because of the gas tragedy. They say that people here are drinking 100 percent pure water and that the factory grounds are also 100 percent safe. Thus the black crow is the only cure for such white lies and that's why we have started this campaign called Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kate (a traditional saying in Hindi to mean the crow bites the liar)," said Satinath Sarangi, Convenor, Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

It's a protest of its kind. The highlights of this protest have been the victims cooking a 'poison-free feast' and extending an invitation to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chauhan and the Local Self Government Minister, Babulal Gaur and all the other bureaucrats and ministers to partake the food.

The feast is prepared from the same toxins lying outside the Union Carbide plant and also the water drawn from the hand pumps in that neighbourhood. However, none of the invitees responded.

"This chemical is going into the water borings and the commoners are forced to drink this contaminated water. If Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Babulal Gaur say that there are no chemicals, then we want them to come and eat this and then we'll understand that this is not contaminated," noted Hazrabi, a victim of the lethal gas leak from the Union Carbide plant, Bhopal.

More than 3,500 people died in the days and weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plant in Bhopal on the night of December 2, 1984.

Officials have confirmed that at least 15,000 people have died from cancer and other ailments related to the toxic gas leak.

Activists have put the toll at 33,000 and claimed that toxins from thousands of tonnes of chemicals lying in and around the site have seeped into the ground and contaminated the water sources.

Union Carbide in 1984 accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a $100 million charitable trust fund to build a hospital for the victims. Later Union Carbide was taken over by Dow Chemicals.

Union Carbide also paid 470 million dollars to the Indian government in 1989 in a settlement reached after a protracted legal battle.

The victims were paid 25,000 rupees in case of illness and 100,000 rupees or so to the next of kin of those killed.

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

The Madhya Pradesh state government has taken possession of land and the abandoned plant. (ANI)

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