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Funds Increased for Treating Bhopal Gas Victims

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh will spend Rs.30 million per annum for the treatment of cancer patients afflicted with the disease after the Bhopal gas tragedy// - over four times the amount it spends at present.

This would be effective from the coming fiscal (2007-08).

"The existing fund of Rs.7 million earmarked for the treatment of the affected cancer patients was insufficient. So it will be increased to Rs.30 million from the next financial year," said Gas Relief Minister Babulal Gaur.

"Hospitals of the gas relief department would also provide treatment to those who were not gas-affected. But they will be charged," Gaur told IANS.

It was 22 years ago on the night of Dec 2/3, 1984, that 40 tonnes of lethal methyl isocyanate gas spewed out of the Union Carbide pesticide plant, killing over 3,000 people instantly and maiming several thousand others for life.

More than 15,000 people have since died from the after-effects of the poisonous gases and over 200,000 people are constantly suffering, activists say about the world's worst industrial disaster.

"A large number of victims are battling deadly diseases like cancer and even children born after the tragedy suffer from deep psychiatric disorders and stunted growth. Women have severe gynaecological problems," said Rachna Dhingra, coordinator of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB).

"The contamination of groundwater in the neighbourhood of the Union Carbide factory is a serious problem. Various studies have established that the presence of highly toxic heavy metals and organic chemicals in groundwater causes cancer and severe damage to the body," said Satinath Sarangi, who runs a clinic treating patients in the gas-affected areas.

The government has also resolved to lobby hard to get 20 municipal wards of Bhopal declared gas-affected. At present, only 36 of 56 municipal wards are considered gas-affected and people living outside these zones at the time of the tragedy can't get any kind of compensation or facilities provided to gas victims.

"It has been decided to pursue with the central government so it declares the remaining 20 wards of Bhopal as gas- affected and compensates their residents too," Gaur said.


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