Bhopal survivors win fight for clean water

Court orders state to pipe fresh supplies to four more townships.

Demonstrators in front of Bhopal Memorial Hospital

Over 25,000 people still affected by the Bhopal gas tragedy have won a long running battle after the Supreme Court ordered the Madhya Pradesh government to provide them with clean drinking water.

“The court ruling has come as a huge relief to the survivors,” said Rachana Dhingra, who has been fighting for survivors’ rights since the tragedy occurred in 1984.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the state government to include four townships – JP Nagar, Kainchi Chola, Shakti Nagar and Karim Baqsh– in a special project to provide clean water to gas tragedy survivors.

Originally, the project was only intended to serve 14 townships, with these four communities left out. The government said the project, which involves piping in water from other areas, was not necessary for these townships because the water there was safe.

But tests revealed that the government was wrong and the water in and around the townships was not fit for drinking. This prompted residents to go to the Supreme Court to demand inclusion.

The overall project was first mooted by campaigners in 1990 when prevailing levels of contamination in the water first came to light.

The campaigners say that the local water sources are still severely contaminated, after around 40 tons of poisonous methyl isocyanate leaked out of the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal on December 3, 1984.

The leak killed 5,295 people immediately and more than 25,000 have died since then, in what was one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

Victims of the tragedy and those living in areas near the plant are still suffering because of air, water and soil pollution, Rachana Dhingra told

Asthma, physical deformities at birth, abortions and memory loss are quite common among these people, she said.


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