Late in the evening, thirty-three years back, the world’s worst industrial disaster rumbled in to life as highly toxic MIC gas began spewing from tank E610 on Union Carbide’s dilapidated pesticide factory in the heart of a populous central Indian city, Bhopal.
Within three days the trail of devastation saw as many as 8-10,000 having died in terrible agony. Some say tens of thousands more.
Tonight in Bhopal, survivors groups have come together to march in what has become a traditional torchlight rally at each anniversary. They cry for the dead and they protest for the living. They demand justice and thirty-three years is too long to be waiting.
The survivors laid out their demands to the assembled members of the press.
33rd Anniversary of the Union Carbide Disaster in Bhopal
Demands of Survivors’ Organisations
Medical care and Research
- Ensure immediate implementation of long pending recommendations of the Supreme Court appointed Monitoring Committee for Medical rehabilitation of the Bhopal Gas Victims.
- Ensure free health care for all victims of contaminated soil and ground water and their children as per scientific findings of government agencies.
- Ensure rehabilitation and health care for all children with congenital birth defects due to parent’s exposure to toxic gases or contaminated ground water.
- Ensure publication of research on appropriate medical interventions for protection and care of the health of all victims of Union Carbide in Bhopal and on long term health damage due to toxic exposure.
Economic and Social Rehabilitation
- Ensure immediate payment of monthly pension to over 5000 women widowed by the gas disaster as per state government’s records.
- Provide vocational training and placement of 14,000 wards of gas victims registered for economic rehabilitation by the state government.
- Ensure comprehensive global standard scientific assessment of the soil and groundwater up to 5 kilometres of the abandoned Union Carbide factory.
- Excavate and safely contain thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste left buried by Union carbide management to prevent further contamination.
- Make The Dow Chemical Company clean up contamination in and around the Bhopal factory as per the terms of the lease with the state government.
- Make Dow Chemical 100% owner of Union Carbide appear in Bhopal District Court so that Union Carbide can be tried for culpable homicide and other grave criminal charges.
- Ensure that CBI does its best in the soon to begin final arguments for conviction and enhanced punishment for Chairman Keshab Mahindra and others including the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide. Match the defence in quality of legal representation through appointment of advocates of matching calibre.
- File criminal charges against The Dow Chemical Company for endangering the life and health of the residents of the abandoned pesticide factory by refusing to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater as it is legally obliged to by the polluter pays principle.
- Revise figures of deaths and extent of injuries caused by the Union Carbide gas disaster in the Curative Petition for enhanced compensation pending before the Supreme Court on the basis of scientific facts.
- Ensure that ex-gratia payment of Rs. two lakhs is made according to records of government hospitals for gas victims that show permanent health damage due to the gas disaster in over 80 % of the registered victims.
- Ensure payment of compensation by The Dow Chemical Company to victims of ongoing contamination of soil and ground water in Bhopal.