Bhopal gas disaster victims, workers vow to continue fight

Hundreds of people holding torches marched from the Sindhi Colony to the defunct Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on Wednesday on the eve of the 31st anniversary of 1984 Bhopal gas leak tragedy, the worst industrial disaster the world has ever seen.

Participants in the march, organised by various non-government organisations, also took an oath outside the factory premises to continue the struggle for justice and for more compensation.

"The Indian government filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court on 3 December 2010, seeking $1.2 billion in additional compensation from Union Carbide and its (present) owner, Dow Chemical Company.

"But, unfortunately, there has been just one hearing on the petition in the last five years and the government has not moved a single application for urgent hearing," said Satinath Sarangi and Rachna Dingra of 'Bhopal Group for Information and Action'.

The curative petition downplays the damage caused by the disaster and seeks too little compensation," they claimed.

Sarangi told PTI that the main obstruction in securing justice for survivors was "continuing collusion" between the union government and the two American corporations - Union Carbide and Dow Chemical Company.

"In 1985 the Indian government asked for $3.3 billion as compensation, which would be about $7 billion today. Union Carbide has paid only $470 million. The least Indian government should be asking for is 6.5 billion dollars," said Rashida Bee, the head of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.

"But the curative petition only asks for $1.2 billion," she said.