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After Bhopal Gas Tragedy Victims Move HC, MP Govt Withdraws Move to Reserve Hosp for Covid-19 Patients

File photo of Bhopal Memorial Hospital​ And Research Centre​.

File photo of Bhopal Memorial Hospital​ And Research Centre​.

After the lockdown was announced on March 24, the MP government had issued orders reserving BMHRC only for COVID-19 patients, following which all the gas leak-hit patients, including critically ill ones, were shifted to other hospitals.

Bhopal: In a major relief for thousands of victims of 1984 Bhopal gas leak tragedy, the Madhya Pradesh government on Wednesday rolled back an earlier decision of notifying Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) as a reserved hospital for treating coronavirus positive patients.

This comes close on the heels of massive resentment from gas leak victims and one of the organisations, Bhopal Group for Action and Information, moving the high court on the same earlier in the day.

It was also reported that all five persons who died due to coronavirus in in the state capital were victims of the gas tragedy. On March 21, some organisations working for the survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy had written to the authorities concerned, saying such people were five times more vulnerable to the coronavirus infection.

After the lockdown was announced on March 24, the new government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan had issued orders reserving BMHRC only for COVID-19 patients, following which all the gas leak-hit patients, including critically ill ones, were shifted to other hospitals.

On Wednesday evening, Health Commissioner Faiz Ahmed KIdwai issued an order that reinstated BMHRC’s earlier status. The order further said the hospital would be used only for testing samples of COVID-19 suspects.

Earlier in the day, the high court took up the survivors' petition on the matter for hearing on an urgent basis and served notices to the state government and Centre.

Organisations fighting for relief of survivors of the infamous gas tragedy had alleged that converting BMHRC into a designated COVID-19 hospital could endanger lives of thousands of gas victims.

In what is termed as the world’s worst industrial disaster, over 15,000 people were killed after methyl isocyanate leaked on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in the city. More than five lakh people were affected due to the toxic leak.

“Gas victims hope the OPD and emergency services of BMHRC would be restored from Thursday onwards,” said activist Rachna Dhingra.

She said four gas tragedy victims died for lack of treatment after BMHRC was taken over by the district administration following the lockdown, adding that five others who died of coronavirus were also affected by the leak.

“The victims express gratitude towards the administration for taking cognisance on this serious issue,” said Dhingra. On the demand of victims, the administration also started screening of locals from gas leak-affected colonies, she added.