Reeling under the long-term effects of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, the survivors of the incident have been more prone to Covid-19 than the entire population of the capital city. The organisations of the survivors presented official records on Tuesday that showed Covid-19 death rate in the gas-exposed population was 6.5 times more.
Demanding that the Union Carbide and its present owner, Dow Chemical, pay additional compensation, Rashida Bi, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, said, "The pandemic has exposed the official lie that 93% of those exposed to Union Carbide's poisonous gases had only temporary injuries. We have official records that show that the gas-exposed population — that is 17% of the district's population of 2.8 million — has contributed to 56% of the Covid-19 deaths in the region."
Nawab Khan, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, said, " It is time the Centre presented these and other hospital records before the Supreme Court that is yet to hear the curative petition for additional compensation for damage caused by the December 1984 disaster."
Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action said that Union Carbide’s own documents state that the injuries caused by exposure to Methyl Isocyanate are permanent in nature yet more than 90% of the exposed people have been paid only 500 US dollars compensation for temporary injuries. "It is a pity that it took a global pandemic to highlight the injustice meted to the victims of the world's worst industrial disaster," she said.
“Dow Chemical has used the pandemic to cut thousands of jobs and make more profit by producing hand sanitisers, but it looks the other way when the pandemic exposes the lasting damage its subsidiary caused in Bhopal. Dow Chemical continues to evade the pending civil, criminal and environmental liabilities of Union Carbide in Bhopal,” said Nausheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide.
To add, the city, which houses the defunct Union Carbide plant, is due to observe anniversary of the infamous 1984 gas tragedy disaster that too place in Bhopal on the intervening night of Dec 2-3, 1984.
Quoting the state health Bulletin and data from Bhopal Memorial Health and Research Centre, a 1984 tragedy dedicated hospital, the survivors claimed that the Covid-19 claimed 450 lives in the city out of which 254 died of the virus attack in gas affected areas.