HC Pulls Up Centre for Incomplete Report on Medical Treatment Available for Bhopal Gas Victims

Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court has sought 100% compliance on all inadequacies pointed out by the Supreme Court-appointed Monitoring Committee.

Pervez Bari 

BHOPAL – Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court reprimanded the Central Government for filing “an inadequate and incomplete” submission on the status of medical treatment available at Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC) for those affected by the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster. The Chief Justice has sought 100% compliance on all inadequacies pointed out by the Supreme Court-appointed Monitoring Committee.

In 1998, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan and Bhopal Group for Information & Action had moved the Supreme Court with a writ petition seeking appropriate and adequate medical care and research facilities for the victims of the 1984 tragedy in which thousands of people lost their lives.

It may be noted here that on the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984 Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory in Bhopal had spewed nearly 40 tonnes of poisonous Methyl Iso-cyanate gas exposing over 5,00,000 people to the toxic fumes. While 3,000 people perished instantly, over the years more than 25,000 have kissed the death and the sad saga is still continuing uninterrupted. About half a million people are still suffering from the side effects of the poisonous gas and several thousand people have been maimed for life.

In 2004, the Supreme Court had appointed a monitoring committee to apprise them of medical care facilities at various hospitals run by the state and the Central government in the state. In 2012, the apex court transferred the matter to the Madhya Pradesh High Court to oversee the progress in this crucial matter.

During a hearing on Tuesday, the counsel for the petitioners and court’s amicus, Naman Nagarath, stated that the December 2021 affidavit filed by the Director, BMHRC has not addressed a single concern raised by the Monitoring Committee in its 16th, 17th and 18th quarterly reports. These reports have shown the pathetic state of medical care at the 350-bed super specialty hospital run by the Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Health Research, Government of India.

The report also observed that no progress has been made towards improvement in the functioning of the BMHRC after its control has been entrusted to ICMR. Posts of professors and associate professors remained vacant for the last 10 years. The most crucial departments of nephrology, neurology, gastro-medicine and surgical oncology are non-functional due to lack of specialists and doctors. It also observed that the non-availability of several critical care medicines and laxity in procurement of much-needed equipments has made matters worse.

Drawing the court’s attention to the deteriorating conditions of BMHRC, the representative of petitioner 2, Bhopal Group for Information & Action, Rachna Dhingra, sought court’s directions to the administration for immediate action in this regard. She hoped that things will change for better and the crucial medical care needs of the survivors will be met. She also commended the Monitoring Committee for presenting status report before the high court.

The Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court directed the Centre to file its compliance report on all concerns and recommendations made by the Monitoring Committee by January 10, 2021.


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