FILE: PM Narendra Modi with US President Barack Obama (Press Trust of India photo)
A leading world rights body has requested US President Barack Obama to take up the case of the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy with the Indian government during his visit to New Delhi as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.
"I strongly urge you to discuss this issue with Prime Minister Modi and issue a joint statement addressing the steps that will be taken to clean up the site, treat survivors' ongoing health problems and ensure those responsible for the disaster are held accountable," Margaret Huang, Chief of Staff, Amnesty International USA, said in a letter to President Obama.
"Mr President, we urge you and Prime Minister Modi to announce a joint initiative by your governments to immediately begin a comprehensive clean-up of the contaminated site. We strongly urge you to ensure that Dow responds to the court summons and appears before the court in India," said the letter dated January 12.
Thousands of survivors, their children and grandchildren continue to face crippling disabilities and illness, the letter said, adding, toxic pollution from the accident severely contaminated the soil and groundwater around the site, poisoning new generations who suffer from high rate of cancer, birth defects and developmental problems.
Deadly methyl isocyanate gas that leaked from the Union Carbide plant on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, created havoc in Bhopal, killing over 3,000 people and injuring lakhs of others in the world's worst industrial disaster.
Union Carbide Corporation is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US-based Dow Chemical Company.
To highlight the continuing suffering of the people of Bhopal, Amnesty International is planning to bring the survivors of the tragedy to Washington DC ahead of President Obama's trip to India.