Bhopal: Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy took out a torch rally on Thursday on the fourth day of their indefinite hunger strike to protest the state government's alleged apathy in providing relief and rehabilitation.
The survivors have been staging strikes for the past 15 days under the campaign 'Jeene Ka Haq' (Right to Live) that marks the first anniversary of their protest march from Bhopal to New Delhi in support of their demands.
Prominent non-government organisations (NGOs) such as Muskaan, Yuva Samvaad, Eklavya and Mahila Manch also participated in the torch rally to express solidarity with the gas survivors.
The campaign was launched to push for the resolution of the survivors' long-pending demands, including healthcare, economic rehabilitation and social support, availability of safe drinking water and removal of hazardous waste from the Union Carbide Corporation's (UCC) now-defunct pesticide plant.
The gas disaster occurred on the night of December 2, 1984, when over 40 tonnes of lethal methyl iso-cyanate (MIC) spewed out of the pesticide plant, in one of worst industrial accidents in the country, killing more than 3,000 people and maiming thousands for life. More than 15,000 people affected by exposure to the toxic gas have died since then.
The leaders of various gas-survivors' organisations — including Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh (BGPMSKS), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha (BGPMPSM), Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) and Bhopal Ki Aawaaz (BKA) — condemned the state government's and the Chief Minister's alleged continued indifference towards the suffering of the people poisoned by the UCC.
"We are lying in the open for the past 15 days and many of our members are on indefinite fast for the past four days to draw attention towards the state government's 'continued apathy' but the government is sitting unconcerned," said BGIA activist Rachna Dhingra.
Members of the four organisations said they would continue with the sit-in till the state government responds to their campaign.
They are also demanding monthly pensions for women who were widowed in the disaster, persons who are too sick to earn a livelihood, survivor families living below the poverty line and those above 60 years with none to depend on.
They demand that the state government must ensure availability of funds for relief and rehabilitation of people poisoned by the UCC at least for the next 30 years.