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Bhopal gas disaster victims protest outside Chouhan’s residence

Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy today created an untoward scene by locking themselves to the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s residence seeking adequate compensation and clean-up of the contaminated factory site.

Victims, supported by residents of the abandoned Union Carbide factory and activists of five non-government organisations, constantly fighting for the survivours for the past several years.

They said that the surviours of gas exposure and contamination would undertake a fast without water in New Delhi to move the central government into action.

Outside Chouhan’s residence several victims staged protest as hundreds others gathered to remind the state government of its constitutional duties towards the victims of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.

The activists of the non-government organisations who jointly led the protest demanded that the state government immediately take action to present revised figures of death and injured in the curative petition (filed in Supreme Court) for additional compensation and call for its urgent hearing.

They also demanded from the state government to intervene in the legal action for clean-up of the contaminated site that is ongoing in the US Federal court.

“The official records of the state government puts figure of 15,348 deaths due to the gas disaster while in curative petition it had said only 52,95 people died in the incident,” said Balkrishna Namdeo an activist of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha.

Another activist Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information & Action said that 17 residents from the communities near the Union Carbide factory are seeking cleanup of contamination of soil and ground water through a suit against Union Carbide in the southern district court of New York but state government was not an intervener in the case.

“The US court has sent notice to the Madhya Pradesh government to appear in the case and present all facts but so far the government has preferred not to act. The government needs to intervene immediately because it owns the factory and dumping sites that need to be cleaned up as the first priority,” he said.

The activists said they wanted to inspire the Chief Minister to fulfill his three year old promise of ensuring Rs 5 lakh as compensation for each gas victim. This can only happen if the state government revises the curative petition, they said.

The organisations held the central government equally responsible for the denial of adequate compensation and official apathy towards the critical issue of clean-up of the poisoned land andwater.

“All survivours would observe a fast without taking even water at NewDelhi soon,” said another activist. A delegation of the organisations had recently met with the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, who is incharge of all matters concerning the Bhopal disaster.

“We have conveyed our demands and decision to go on waterless fast to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Ananth Kumar,” said Namdeo.

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