Organisations working for the cause of survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy on Sunday demanded urgent help for the victims, especially widows, from the Madhya Pradesh government in view of the COVID-19 crisis.
In a letter addressed to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, these organisations claimed the condition of about 5,000 widowed victims has become pathetic, as they have been deprived of the monthly pension (of Rs 1,000) since December 2019.
The letter has been written jointly by Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan (BGPMUS) convener Hamida Bi and ND Jayaprakash, co-convener of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS).
Jayaprakash said BGPSSS was an umbrella body of 30 NGOs working for the gas victims.
"Gas victims are being forced to live in terrible conditions when thousands of crores of rupees are still due to them by the way of compensation," stated the letter, copies of which have been distributed to media persons.
"By the Government of India's own submission in the curative petitions, currently pending before the Supreme Court, it has sought Rs 7,728 crores (which is a gross under- estimation) as an additional compensation from Union Carbide Corporation and its present owners, the Dow Chemical Company," it said.
There is absolutely no justification for continuing to delay the granting of additional compensation to the gas victims, the organisations said.
"It may be recalled that Rs 200 was paid as an interim relief per person/per month to 500,000 residents of 36 gas affected wards of Bhopal during 1990-1996 by the Central government due to delay in the payment of compensation.
The organisations have demanded an interim relief of Rs 3,000 per victim per month and of Rs 5,000 to each widow or orphan per month until disbursement of additional compensation.