More than three decades have passed since the Bhopal gas tragedy took place and people still await justice. Adding to their woes, relief promised on the part of the government too looks like a far-off dream.
Friday saw immense chaos at the directorate of Bhopal gas relief and rehabilitation as thousands of gas victims scrambled to submit applications for the Central government’s housing-for-all scheme implemented by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Touts taking advantage of the situation were seen selling the application forms worth ₹10 at ₹100 and were even charging money from the victims for filling up forms as many of them were unable to fill the form on their own. Even tea vendors were seen selling the application forms.
The roads witnessed immense traffic inflow due to the huge congregation the office in Shivaji Nagar. Even though sixteen counters had been set up at the office for receipt of applications, and plastic drums were also kept near the counters, in which the victims had to put their applications in case there was huge crowd at the counters people preferred to fill their forms at the counters.
As reported by Hindustan Times, Pooja Chauhan from Pushpa Nagar said she bought the application form for ₹100. “I didn’t know some were selling it for ₹10. Victims like us jump at every opportunity if there is even a little chance of getting some relief or help from the state government,” she said.
Highlighting another problem faced, Sunita Panthi from Old Bhopal’s Chhola area, said they had to attach copies of documents like identity card, aadhar card and documents related to receipt of ₹25,000 by them earlier. “But we were not provided any receipt for the applications. We were told that we will get an SMS related to the receipt of our application.”
When asked about the issue, KG Tiwari, the director of gas relief and rehabilitation department, said ,“We will verify the applicants whether they are gas victims or not. After that, the BMC will consider them for housing under its scheme.”
Rachna Dhingra a Bhopal gas activist said there was no clarity on the number of houses, location or the expected time in which they will be allotted. “It was in 2008 that the MP government sent a `40 crore proposal to the Union ministry of chemicals to construct houses for 2,500 gas affected families in Bhopal.”