Staff Reporter

Conclude 800 km march from Bhopal in support of their various demands

NEW DELHI: Marking two years since their last padayatra all the way on foot from Bhopal to Delhi, 50 people, including survivors of the 1984 gas tragedy, their children, people exposed to contaminated drinking water and their supporters concluded their second 800-km march over the weekend by walking from Nizamuddin Park in Bhopal to Parliament Street here in the Capital.

“We were forced to undertake this gruelling walk because the Prime Minister has failed to keep his word. This time, we are not going back until we get a public declaration from him that he will deliver on his promise,” said Hazra Bi, a survivor and one of the padayatris.

According to the protesters, the Government’s inaction on rehabilitation and environmental remediation has placed the people of Bhopal at the receiving end of two disasters -- the catastrophic 1984 gas leak and the ongoing water contamination -- both with pronounced deadly effects on children and future generations.“Despite a 1991 Supreme Court order directing the Government to extend insurance benefits to several gas-affected children, not one child has been covered, leading to a spurt in destitution among families with sick children. In the contamination-affected communities, a congenital deformity among newborns is a rising trend. The future generations are in danger,” said a statement issued by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

Accusing the co-ordination committee set up by the Prime Minister to oversee implementation of rehabilitation schemes and environmental remediation of not delivering, it said: “Over the last two years, the co-ordination committee has had three meetings and accomplished nothing. More than 25,000 people continue to consume poison-tainted groundwater in the absence of reliable and good quality water supply. More than 5,000 tonnes of toxic wastes remains buried and spread in and around the factory site and no efforts have been taken to contain them or export them outside for final disposal.”