Women Widowed by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Hold Protest

Widows of the world’s worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, protest in central India. They are demanding more compensation from the state government. Here’s more on the story.

Hundreds of women widowed by the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy took to the streets, demanding adequate pensions and enhanced compensation.

Balkrishna Namdev, Protester:  “It’s been 26 years since the gas tragedy, and in these 26 years the condition of the gas victims’ widows has deteriorated. The Madhya Pradesh state government has failed to provide adequate compensation to these women. Even the compensation decided by the Group of Ministers is very low.”

And their frustrations don’t end there.

Balkrishna Namdev, Protester:  “We also demand that all the gas victims, who used to receive about $13-thousand compensation, should now get another $6,800.”

Not being able to cope up with spiraling inflation, the widows say they’re now begging on the street for money.

The widows had received some compensation at the time of the industrial disaster. However, their rehabilitation program was discontinued after 1996.

The federal government had constituted a Group of Ministers, or GoM, to examine all aspects of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, which submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 21.

The GoM had dealt with all the issues – compensation, legal issues, including the issue of the extradition of Warren Anderson, remediation and health-related matters.

In December 1984, toxic gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal into the atmosphere and was carried by the wind to the surrounding slums, claiming thousands of lives.

According to government sources, around 3,500 people died immediately due to the gas leak but social activists say the actual figures touched 25,000 in the years that followed.

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