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Bhopal gas cover-up on

Dismissing Madhya Pradesh Governor Bhai Mahavir’s call for an independent inquiry into reports of ground water contamination from the U...

Dismissing Madhya Pradesh Governor Bhai Mahavir’s call for an independent inquiry into reports of ground water contamination from the Union Carbide chemical waste, state Minister for Gas Relief Areef Akeel today continued with his cover-up.

At a memorial service for victims on the Union Carbide premises on the 18th anniversary of the tragedy, Mahavir said: ‘‘Some people are saying the water is not polluted. A photo of the Minister (Akeel) has been printed where he is drinking the water and saying if anything had to happen it should have happened to him… But not everyone has the same tolerance level…There should be an inquiry.’’

But even without an independent inquiry, evidence that the water around the factory is toxic is overwhelming. Bhopal Municipal Commissioner M.B. Ojha has said water from three tubewells is unsafe for drinking.

When this was pointed out to Akeel, he said: ‘‘You go ask the Municipal Commissioner.’’

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Mahavir also called upon the Centre and state to expedite efforts to ensure that Union Carbide is held responsible for the contamination. The state government had said it will hold Dow Chemicals (which bought over Union Carbide) responsible, but today Areef put the onus on the Centre, saying CM Digvijay Singh had written to PM Vajpayee to take action.

Digvijay Singh assured his government was committed to ensuring relief and rehabilitation and providing better medical facilities. But not many it seemed wanted to believe him. So it was no surprise that the annual procession taken out by gas relief organisations had two additions to the usual effigy of Warren Anderson paraded every year — Digvijay and Vajpayee’s.

First published on: 04-12-2002 at 00:00 IST
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