India’s Bhopal gas leak victims protest on anniversary

STORY: On its 38th anniversary, survivors of India’s Bhopal gas leak – one of the world’s deadliest industrial disasters – took to the streets on Saturday (December 3) to protest the government’s lack of compensation, treatment and employment opportunities.

Bhopal gas tragedy victim: "We demand that Bhopal be brought to justice, the victims should get the right compensation, there should be correct measures for treatment and employment, and the environment should improve. The government says it has spent millions (of rupees) but the reality on the ground is still the same. In reality, no one has a proper source of income or got the right treatment, and there is no compensation.”

Nearly four decades ago, toxic cyanide gas leaked from a pesticide factory owned by U.S.-based multinational Union Carbide Corporation and was carried by wind into surrounding slums in Bhopal.

Protestors in Bhopal burned an effigy with a poster of the Chairman of Dow Chemical, the current parent company of Union Carbide and a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Meanwhile, 800 victims travelled to New Delhi to demand government support and just compensation from Union Carbide.

Karuna Nandi, India’s Supreme Court Advocate, was at the protest.

Karuna Nandi: "At least 800 people from Bhopal have gathered here today. They are unwell, they do not have employment and neither do they have the ability to work. The ones who do had to leave their work aside to come here today. They had humble means of transportation and they do not have any proper accommodation. They have come for a few hours and will be returning to Bhopal later. These people are here today to send the message to the government to stand by their side and rectify their data (of victims)."

Many people still suffer from cancer, blindness, respiratory problems and immune and neurological disasters with little support, they say.

The government recorded 5,295 deaths. Unofficial figures claim the number to be as high as 16,000. Activists estimate 25,00 deaths from illnesses since the leak.