November 14, 2014 – Survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy have gone on an indefinite fast to demand better compensation for thousands of victims affected by the deadly gas leak 30 years ago.
They also want an amendment to the official casualty figure the Indian government has presented to the Supreme Court. Satinath Sarangi, founder of Poisonous Gas Episode Struggle Front, said: “Only 33,000 victims have been given additional compensation. More than 500,000 people have been denied the relief without checking any scientific evidence.”
The disaster, one of the world’s worst industrial accidents, hit Bhopal in the winters of 1984. A cloud of poisonous gas, emitted from a nearby pesticide plant, floated over the central Indian city, killing more than 3,000 people and maiming countless more.
American company Union Carbide was held responsible and five years after the catastrophe a settlement amount of US$470 million was fixed. But it left India dissatisfied. The issue emerged once again in 2012 when Indian authorities filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court seeking more retribution.
A spokesperson for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Sambit Patra, said: “The Indian legal system is a very strict legal system. No one, even if it’s a Dow Chemical, no one can skirt this system and surely law will take its own course.”
While Indians have been fighting for justice, Dow Chemical has distanced itself from its subsidiary Union Carbide and dodged the recent summons to appear before the Bhopal District court. That approach has left the survivors with little hope, despite their hunger strike.