Posts Tagged ‘BGPMUS’
The successive governments at the Centre and in Madhya Pradesh have failed to stand up to the challenge posed by the world’s biggest industrial disaster that struck Bhopal in the night of December 2-3, 1984. Thousands were choked to death and lakhs of others were disabled for life by the mic gas which leaked from the pesticide factory of union carbide, an American multinational, which has since been taken over by another American multinational, Dow Chemical. Abdul Jabbar Khan, convener of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS), and N D Jayaprakash, Co-convener of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS), who have been trying to help the victims through their organisations, take a look at the state of affairs 29 years after the tragedy:
HEALTH: The gross indifference on the part of the State and Central Governments to the health needs of the gas victims continues to be as grim as ever. Though a fairly large infrastructure has been built in terms of buildings and number of hospital beds over the years, the quality of health care in terms of investigation, diagnosis and treatment continue to be abysmal. The persistent apathy on the part of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the State of Madhya Pradesh in monitoring the health status of the Bhopal gas victims – through computerisation and networking of hospital medical records and by ensuring the supply of health-booklets to each gas victim with his/her complete medical record – is shocking to say the least. That a proper protocol for treatment of each gas-related ailment has not been evolved even 29 years after the disaster speaks volumes about the apathetic attitude of the concerned authorities in this regard.
The urgency of restarting medical research arising from and related to the Bhopal disaster, which the ICMR had abandoned in 1994, can in no way be underplayed especially in the light of numerous reports about the high morbidity rate in the gas-exposed areas of Bhopal. The four consolidated medical reports on the Bhopal disaster that the ICMR has published so far provide ample proof in this regard. Reports about genetic defects among the progenies of some of the gas victims are also a major cause for concern.
COMPENSATION: Twenty-one years after the unjust Bhopal Settlement of February 14-15, 1989, the Union of India had decided to file a curative petition before the Supreme Court on December 3, 2010 against the terms of the Settlement on the plea that the Settlement was based on underestimated figures of the dead and injured. The petition has been admitted but has not yet been taken up for hearing. BGPMUS and BGPSSS do support the UOI’s Curative Petition in principle regarding the total casualty figure (i.e., 5, 73,000, including dead and injured) and regarding the modalities for enhancing compensation; it should be based on the Dollar-Rupee exchange rate that prevailed at the time of the Settlement.
CRIMINAL CASE: The criminal cases against the accused are supposedly proceeding at two levels: one against the three absconding accused and the other against the eight accused who appeared before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal, to face trial. Through his order of June 7, 2010, the CJM had prosecuted the eight accused persons under Sections 304-A, 336, 337 and 338 of IPC. The CBI, the State of MP and BGPMUS and BGPSSS had filed Criminal Revision Petitions against the said order before the Sessions Court, Bhopal. By completely overlooking the plea of the prosecution and by upholding the contentions of the accused in toto, the Sessions Court, Bhopal, on August 28.2012 dismissed the CBI’s Criminal Revision Petition as “being not maintainable and barred by limitation”. The CBI had sought enhancement of charges against Keshub Mahindra and the seven other accused from Section 304-A to Section 304 of IPC on the basis of evidence already before the court of the CJM.
The criminal case against the three absconding accused, namely accused Nos.1, 10 and 11, which has been pending before the court of the CJM as Miscellaneous Judicial Case (MJC) No.91 of 1992 has also been proceeding at an equally tardy pace.
ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION: Toxic waste that was generated during UCIL’s operation from 1969 to 1984 was dumped in and around the plant leading to severe soil and water contamination. A comprehensive study to estimate the extent and gravity of the damage has not been carried out by the Centre or the State Government to date. Instead, the magnitude of the problem has been grossly underestimated by making it appear that the total toxic waste that needs to be safely disposed of is only about 345 tonnes that is stored at the plant site. in a preliminary study that was jointly carried out by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, and the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, during 2009-2010, it was estimated that “the total quantum of contaminated soil requiring remediation amounts to 11,00,000 MT.
At the initiative of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi, a preliminary attempt was made in April 2013 to bring together on a common platform the various stakeholders and experts to prepare an Action Plan to remediate the degraded environment. While a draft Action Plan has been worked out, it requires further refinement as well as inputs from other experts and stakeholders, including the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
RELIEF & REHABILITATION: The State Government has failed to address adequately and with sensitivity a whole host of socio-economic problems that confront the chronically sick, the elderly, the differently abled, the widowed, and other vulnerable sections among the gas victims. The pittance, which was disbursed as compensation in most instances to these sections was never enough to take care of their daily needs. Finding gainful employment in accordance with the reduced capacity to work and to lead a dignified life has been a serious challenge. The State Government has to provide far more attention and support to this issue than in the past.
Babulal Gaur is the seniormost member of the Shivraj Singh Chauhan cabinet and holds the charge of Bhopal gas disaster relief and rehabilitation and urban development departments. The urban civic bodies are, thus, his responsibility.
His daughter-in-law Krishna Gaur is the Mayor of Bhopal Municipal Corporation. She lives at Gaur’s official bungalow and not at the residence earmarked for the Mayor.
Gaur (as Bhopal gas relief minister) decides to purchase 500 garbage-containers, each weighing 220 kgs, with the funds from the Bhopal gas department and, as minister of
urban development, donates them to the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (read Mayor Krishna Gaur) for installing them in the city. These containers are installed not in the gas-affected localities but in the localities in new Bhopal which are mostly inhabited by the BJP-supporters.
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) convener Abdul Jabbar did some homework and found that an amount of Rs 17,765 was paid for each of the containers as against the market price of Rs 13,200. Jabbar has calculated the bungling of around Rs 10 lakh in the purchase.
On March 31, Jabbar wrote to Gaur with his “findings” and sought to know why the funds meant for the gas victims were being used for other purposes. He is still waiting for a reply.