28 years later, women in Bhopal still waiting for justice
London: Tens of thousands of victims of India`s worst ever industrial disaster the 1984 catastrophic gas leak at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal are still waiting for justice and women are suffering even more, Amnesty International said on Monday.
The gas leak, which occurred exactly 28 years ago today, killed between 7,000 and 10,000 men, women and children just in the first three days.
A further 15,000 are believed to have died over the following years, while tens of thousands more have been left with serious health problems.
Union Carbide was bought by Dow Chemical Company (Dow) in 2001.
"Twenty-eight years is too long to wait for justice. The Indian government and Dow must finally compensate the victims properly, and the Indian authorities must also hold those responsible for this disaster to account," said Madhu Malhotra, Director of Amnesty International`s Gender programme.
According to a press release by the Amnesty International here, women in Bhopal have suffered disproportionately since the gas leak.
Many have suffered severe health impacts, including gynaecological and reproductive health disorders.
As men affected by the disaster became too ill to keep on working, many women have also had to continue to take on the role of breadwinner, while at the same time caring for ill family members.
"On the night the gas disaster happened, my pregnant daughter-in-law suddenly went into labour. We took her to hospital and as soon as they gave her an injection, she breathed her last," said Rampyari Bai, one of the survivors of the leak and an activist in Bhopal.
But women are also at the forefront of the struggle for justice. Local activist groups are demanding that the government adequately compensate the victims and provide health care to those who are still suffering.
"We are fighting for the issue of liability of Union Carbide, whether it is in US or in India. It is because people here believe that it`s not just important to get compensation, but it`s also important to get justice," said Rachna Dhingra from the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
There has yet to be a thorough investigation into the health effects of the disaster on people`s lives.
According to activists, there are still close to 150,000 people battling chronic illnesses of the lungs or liver.
The industrial skeleton of the former Union Carbide factory today still lies abandoned in the centre of Bhopal, with more than 350 tonnes of toxic waste untreated inside.
Some 40,000 people are still living next to the factory, and have been exposed to the toxic waste for years.
"Today 28 years after the disaster, in many senses the situation of the victims is worse than it was on the morning of the disaster. The people who are struggling are mainly poor and are mainly women," says Hazra Bi from the local NGO Union Carbide Gas Affected Women`s Collective.
Amnesty International urged the government of India and Dow to immediately clean up the site of the gas leak.
In 1989, the Supreme Court announced a settlement between the Indian government and Union Carbide, without consulting with survivors.
Union Carbide was asked to pay USD 470 million in compensation, but even this inadequate sum has not been distributed in full to the victims.
Dow has consistently denied any responsibility for Union Carbide`s liabilities in Bhopal.
In August 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that greater powers should be given to the committee monitoring the rehabilitation of victims of the gas leak.
Activists say they hope the decision will lead to better healthcare for those affected.
"The decision was positive and must be urgently implemented. The only way for Dow and Union Carbide to finally put the legacy of Bhopal to rest is to work with the affected communities and government of India to fully, and effectively, address the human rights impact of the disaster," said Malhotra.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Delhi's 2015 CBSE Class 12 topper M Gayatri talks to Zee Media
- One year of Modi govt: PM promises to fulfil aspirations
- Watch: Mumbai cops find new secret agents in housewives!
- DNA: Sikh man in New Zealand removed his turban to help injured kid
- No respite from heat for next three days: IMD
- Hundreds die as heat wave continues in India
- 2G scam: Ex-TRAI chief alleges Manmohan Singh had warned him to cooperate
- Pranab Mukherjee defends Bofors scam, says it was just a media trial
- DNA: AIIMS doctor removes both kidneys of minor, claims she had only one
- Growing medical negligence in Delhi's AIIMS
- Salman Khan attends sister Arpita's wedding reception in Mandi
- Zee Media's mega survey on Modi govt
- Zee Media Exclusive: Vidya Balan chats about 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani'
- One year of Modi govt: PM Modi addresses mega rally in Mathura Part-II
- Smriti Irani visits Amethi, promises to pay insurance money to 25,000 women
- One year of NDA govt: PM Modi writes open letter to nation, promises to transform India
- World optimistic about India: PM Narendra Modi on 1 year of NDA govt
- MSBSHSE Class 12th HSC results 2015 to be declared at 1pm tomorrow
- Arpita-Aayush wedding reception: Salman Khan spreads love in Mandi, says `hum aapke hain`
- Bharatiya Janata Party lacks majority for Ram Temple, Article 370: Amit Shah
- AAP govt moves resolution against MHA notification: As it happened
- Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at one year of Modi govt, wishes 'happy birthday' to 'suit-boot ki sarkar'
- Heatwave kills 90 more in Andhra, Telangana; toll crosses 800
- UBSE Results 2015 (ubse.uk.gov.in): Uttarakhand 12th Result 2015 to be announced today at 11 AM
- Gujjars adamant on holding talks in Bayana; rail tracks remain blocked
- CBSE 10th result to be declared tomorrow
- CBSE Class X Board Results 2015 to declared tomorrow
- Salman Khan's `Bajrangi Bhaijaan` teaser to be out in two days?
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 (cbse.nic.in, cbseresults.nic.in) postponed?
- What couldn't be done in last 10 years, NDA govt did in one year: Smriti Irani in Amethi