Addressing a press conference on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster, members of the Sambhavna rust Clinic today called for immediate medical attention to thousands of families poisoned by ground water contaminated by Union Carbide’s hazardous waste. They said that records from the clinic show that there are nearly twice as many patients of abdominal pain, gynaecological disorders, skin disorders and appetite loss from the population exposed to groundwater compared to that exposed to Union carbide’s toxic gases in 1984.
Set up in 1995 to provide free medical care to victims of the US multinational, the Sambhavna Clinic has treated 24,233 of persons with acute exposure to Methyl Iso Cyanate and other toxic gases and 6,727 persons with chronic exposure to poisonous Organochlorines and heavy metals in their ground water.
“Our records show that while abdominal pain was reported by 19.8% of gas exposed patients, 31.2% of the patients who have been expose to contaminated ground water complained of this. Among gas exposed female patients 3.4% had menstrual irregularities and 8.8% complained of white discharge while the corresponding figures were 16.4% and 14.7% among the female patients with history of exposure to contaminated ground water. Twice as many patients poisoned by contaminants in ground water complained of severe loss of appetite and various skin disorders compared to gas exposed patients.” Said Dr.Mrithyunjay Mali, Ayurvedic Physician at the Clinic,
Said Community Research Worker Hariom Vishwakarma, “As per official studies, some 10 thousand families living in the vicinity of the pesticide factory have been exposed to water contaminated by hazardous waste left buried by the Union Carbide management. Almost all of them had community hand pumps as the only source of drinking water and would thus have been slowly poisoned over decades.”
“The 16 government and non-government studies that have been carried out on groundwater samples between 1989 and 2012 show high concentrations of chemicals and heavy metals that damage the kidneys, liver, reproductive system and brain and cause cancer and birth defects. Six of these contaminants are Persistent Organic Pollutants and retain their toxicity for decades. Also many of these are bioaccumulative chemicals that get stored in fat tissues in the body.” Rajesh Gour, Community Health Worker at the Clinic said.
Dr. Shweta Chaturvedi said that treatment protocols of Sambhavna that integrate Ayurvedic and Yoga healing with modern medicine have worked very well in the care of those exposed to groundwater, “72% of contamination exposed patients are taking Ayurveda treatment at the clinic. We are documenting the remarkable improvement in skin disorders as a result of Ayurvedic treatment at the clinic.” she said.
“Hospitals run by the central and state governments for victims of Union Carbide must provide free health care to those who are ill from drinking poisoned water. In fact the Supreme Monitoring Committee has been entrusted to ensure that the contamination affected get free health care” said Nitesh Dubey, Registration Assistant at the Sambhavna Clinic.