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Modi gives a short shrift to disabled kids of Bhopal gas victims
10-09-2015

By Pervez Bari

BHOPAL: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a visit to Bhopal, known for the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, gave a short shrift to disabled kids born to the gas victims and looked the other way when they wanted to draw his attention towards their unending woes.

On Thursday children disabled by Union Carbide’s poisons held a banner which stated, “Bhopal Survivors just need 15 minutes, Sir” and stood on the wayside from where the Prime Minister Modi’s cavalcade passed on way to the venue of the World Hindi Conference in the city. The children also held placards stating, “Poisoned by Union Carbide, abandoned by Indian Government” while standing in hope that the Prime Minister seeing their pitiable condition would stop and at least say a few soothing words to them to mitigate their sufferings.

However, the Prime Minister’s motorcade did not stop but passed by on the airport road where the disabled children, some sitting in wheel-chairs, stood still with banners and placards. There was none, not even the host Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, to whisper in the Prime Minister’s ears the plight of Bhopal gas victims, which they were going through for over three decades.

The five NGOs working for the welfare of the survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal had asked for a 15 minute meeting with the PM during his visit to the city to discuss the lingering issues of compensation, criminal justice and clean up. They had written to the Bhopal collector in this respect on September 4 last to seek time.

While several scientific studies have shown the genetic impact of the disaster and the effect on the next generation neither the state nor the Central government has provided any medical care or rehabilitation. It was hoped that the PM at the very least would find time to meet the disabled children who were holding banners and placards asking for 15 minute time.

Rashida Bi, president of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, two days back in a Press conference had said, “From August 1, 2014 to March 17, 2015 we have sent six petitions to the Prime Minister and have acknowledgements on two and response to none. We urged the PM to provide ex-gratia relief of Rs1,00,000 to all those gas victims who were only paid Rs 25,000 as compensation. However, all that happened was our petition was redirected to the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers”.

On the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory had spewed poisonous Methyl Iso-cyanate gas whereby 3,000 people had perished instantly and over the years more than 25,000 have kissed death and the sad saga is still continuing uninterruptedly. About half a million are suffering from the side effects of the poisonous gas and several thousand people have been maimed for life.