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Bhopal gas tragedy survivors ask Unesco to preserve ‘killer’ factory
Published on 5 Mar. 2009 1:14 AM IST
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Survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy Wednesday said they have appealed to Unesco to preserve the Union Carbide factory, which was the site of the infamous industrial disaster, as part of a memorial. Leaders of various NGOs working for the cause of the gas tragedy victims - including the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh (BGPMSKS), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha (BGPMPSM) and Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) - said at a joint press conference here that they have sent a letter to UNESCO, seeking help for decontamination, repair, restoration and preservation of the factory site. “The remains of the Union Carbide factory that has killed over 25,000 people so far are as valuable a heritage as the remains of the concentration camps in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and other places. Thus, it must be preserved in its original form at all cost,” says the letter sent to Unesco. “While there was so much clamour in government departments for getting different sites recognised as a UNESCO heritage site, here was a site that could well qualify as a modern industrial heritage but the government was intent on destroying the memory of the corporate crime against humanity,” it added. The tragedy, known as one of the world’s worst man-made catastrophes, occurred when tonnes of methyl-iso-cyanate and other lethal gases spewed out of the Union Carbide’s pesticide plant on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, killing thousands of people instantly and maiming several thousand others for life. Condemning the government’s plans for pulling down the factory, Satinath Shadangi of BGIA said that any attempt to dismantle it will be physically resisted by the survivors. “It is unfortunate that the state has not been able to construct a memorial even 24 years after the tragedy. It has not even talked to the survivors or their organisations in this regard,” said Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan convener Abdul Jabbar. The survivors’ leaders also claimed that the government’s negligence towards securing the thousands of tonnes of buried waste was leading to further spread of extremely poisonous chemicals. They alleged that the Hyderabad-based company Ramky, which nearly caused a disaster at the factory site while containing waste in June 2005, is now constructing a very unsafe disposal site at Pithampur. They also accused the state government of secretly removing 40 tonnes of hazardous waste to Pithampur in blatant violation of the Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 1989.

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