By Pervez Bari
Bhopal : Leaders of survivors organisations of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal have condemned the Central and Madhya Pradesh Governments’ negligence towards the ever growing problem of poisoning of groundwater in Bhopal.
Addressing a Press Conference on Monday these leaders pointed out that the Supreme Court has recently acknowledged the spread of contamination of ground water to 20 communities in addition to the 22 that are known to be contaminated.
As per the recent orders of the Supreme Court a team from the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow will be arriving here on Tuesday to collect samples of groundwater from 20 additional communities. The Bhopal Municipal Corporation has been directed by the apex court to provide piped drinking water in five of the twenty communities that do not have this facility.
Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said: “Are the Central and state governments waiting for the poisons to spread all over the city before they begin to act? Going by the orders of the Supreme Court, the number of poisoned communities has trebled in the last 14 years. Yet the governments have not taken a tiny step to stop the spread of chemicals that damage the brain, lungs, kidneys and liver and cause cancers and birth defects.”
“The surest way to stop the spread of poisons would be to excavate and contain the poisonous factory waste that remains buried underground and that is the source of the ongoing contamination. Instead of digging the soil and taking out the poisonous waste, the government is actively contemplating covering the buried waste by building a memorial to the gas disaster over them.” said Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.
Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action said: “The groundwater contamination began with the unsafe burial of hazardous waste by the Union Carbide management. The Government of India holds Dow Chemical legally liable for this second environmental disaster in Bhopal but in practice is doing everything possible to let the corporation get away without cleaning up the contaminated area as per the terms of the land lease.”
“Most of the contamination is in the area from where the current Minister of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief & Rehabilitation was elected to power. So far he has done nothing to have the poison cleaned up or help the affected residents get compensation from Dow Chemical. He will have to face a lot of hard questions when he comes asking for votes at the next elections”, said Sarita Malaviya of Children against Dow Carbide who lives in one of the contaminated communities.