Warning of a second tragedy here, 20 years after the Bhopal gas disaster, noted author Dominique Lapierre on Thursday asked the Indian government to intensify efforts to force Dow Chemicals to clean up hazardous chemicals left behind in the Union Carbide factory.
"A second tragedy is happenning, 20 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy, as toxic effluents left behind are poisoning drinking water in nearby areas," Lapierre, the co-author of bestseller 'It Was Five Past Midnight at Bhopal', said.
"I humbly suggest Indian government to force Dow Chemicals to clean up the site," he said.
On whether efforts made in this direction are enough, he said "not at all. There was never any public legal action ... (by way of) trial. The victims are entitled to know what happened then and who are reponsible for the tragedy."
Stating that the world has a lesson to learn from the tragedy, co-author of the book Javier Moro said if the legal struggle going on in the courts of America and India force Dow Chemicals to clean up toxic waste, it will force international companies to "clean up their mess where ever it is kept."
Lapierre and Moro are here to attend several programmes on 20th anniversary of the disaster.
On the night of December 2-3, 1984, gas leak from the factory of Union Carbide in Bhopal had claimed more than 15,000 lives and left thousands of others maimed.
Lapierre and Moro welcomed the beginning of distribution of fresh compensation of Rs 1567 crore to the victims, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Sambhavna Trust and Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti.
Uma Shankar Gupta also said the residents of 12 habitats near the factory were facing drinking water problems in view of contamination of water sources by toxic substances.
However, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation has been supplying water in these areas through tankers, he said, adding that two more tankers would be added to the fleet.
The Corporation has also proposed a piped water supply project worth Rs 9.5 crore for the affected areas, which is
being considered, Gupta said.
Various organisations, including the ruling BJP in the state are in favour of inclusion of the remaining 20 wards of
the city in the list of 36 gas affected wards, he said.
A memorial of gas tragedy victims is also planned to be constructed at the factory premises.