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Children Born to Bhopal Gas Tragedy Survivors Still Struggle to Get a Normal Life

Poonam Singh, who lives in Karond, close to the dreaded Union Carbide factory and under potential threat of water contamination, said that with medical care at the Chingari Trust, her son Akshat (5) can now speak, walk and run, which was impossible for him earlier.

Vivek Trivedi | News18.com

Updated:November 29, 2017, 6:50 PM IST
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Children Born to Bhopal Gas Tragedy Survivors Still Struggle to Get a Normal Life
File photo of Bhopal gas tragedy survivors. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
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Bhopal: Five-year-old Md Aftab was not around when the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy rocked his city. But he was born with Down Syndrome decades later and as he grows older, chances of him leading a normal life reduces.

Yet, with the multiple therapies being offered to him over the years by a voluntary organisation working for second and third generation victims of the tragedy, the child has shown remarkable physical and mental improvement. He now attends a school with other children of his age.

Aftab is not the only one here as thousands of children born to victims of the 1984 disaster are still forced to live lives of misery and hardship.

“Aftab has been undergoing a number of therapies at Chingari Trust for three years and has shown remarkable improvement,” said his mother Shama Bi, who resided in JP Nagar, opposite to the Union Carbide factory. When the poisonous gas started leaking from the factory on the night of December 2-3 1984, she was six-months-old.

With persistent support and care, Aftab is now able to do small household chores on his own and can also study to some extent. He attends KG1 classes in Little Bells School with other children his age, said his father Md Afsar.

Md Aftab

Five-year-old Md Aftab was born with Down Syndrome.

Poonam Singh, who lives in Karond, close to the dreaded Union Carbide factory and under potential threat of water contamination, said that with medical care at the Chingari Trust, her son Akshat (5) can now speak, walk and run, which was impossible for him earlier.

Trustees of Chingari — Rasheeda Bi and Champa Devi Shukla, told News18 that with limited resources, they have the capacity to accommodate only 900 such children born with physical and mental deformities, while 193 of them come for regular treatment.

champa-rasheeda

Shukla added that out of these, 153 kids are given special education at the centre and 38 of them attend normal schools while 19 are expected to enroll soon. A total of 57 children have started to read, 39 can take part in different activities and 63 can undertake daily chores.

Speaking on the fundings that they receive to run these programmes, Rasheeda said, “We get no government aid and survive on monetary assistance from Bhopal Medical Appeal and volunteer organisations based in London.”

The centre ropes in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, special education, nutrition and other support to treat kids with disabilities including autism, hyperactive and behavioural issues, sensory disorders, growth issues and so on.

The Trust was founded in 2006 when Rasheeda Bi and Champa Devi Shukla, both Bhopal tragedy survivors, were recognized for their activism on behalf of the thousands of survivors of the disaster and were presented with the Goldman Environmental Award. They had invested Rs 58 lakh received as prize money into the trust.

The two senior volunteers however laments that they are unable to help more kids with such deformities due to resource crunch.

All hell broke loose on the old city of Bhopal on the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984, when 40 tonnes of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas accidentally leaked from the Union Carbide plant, killing thousands and causing grievous damage to thousands more. Kids born to the survivors still suffer from the toxicity even after decades.
| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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