ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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BHOPAL GAS DISASTER-Mockery of Relief and Rehabilitation

BHOPAL GAS DISASTER Mockery of Relief and Rehabilitation Sujit K Das VERY few have noticed the extraordinary nature of the Supreme Court's interim order on the petition of the 'Janasasthya Samity' of Bhopal on August 13, when the Court directed the Government of Madhya Pradesh to submit a scheme for the distribution of Sodium Thiosulphate (NaTS) for the detoxification of the poisoned citizens of BhopaJ. The Court said, "the scheme should also contain a provision for the distribution of this medicine through voluntary agencies" and "may also contain whether a health card should be issued to the victims to whom this medicine is being administered, either by the agency of the government or by the voluntary agencies". Issuing specific order to supply NaTS to the Janasasthya Samity, the Court further said on August 26, "We would like the state government to inform the Court as to what time-bound programme the state government proposes to set up for the purposes of administration of Sodium Thiosulphate injection, with a view to detoxification of persons who are the victims of the gas ... We hope and trust the state government will indent the necessary quantity of Sodium Thiosulphate injections so as to meet the needs of all the persons who are affected by the gas tragedy!' CYANIDE STORY NaTS is the only safe and effective antidote to chronic cyanide poisoning. Within a week of the gas disaster, Dr Heeresh Chandra, Head of the Department of Forensic and State Medicine, Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal, detected evidence of cyanide poisoning in the dead bodies. His findings were corroborated by the German Clinical Ibxicologist, Dr Max Daunderer and on their advice NaTS were given to the hospital patients. But for undisclosed reasons, it was stopped after a few days and Dr Daunderer was persuaded to leave Bhopal. Dr Daunderer, before leaving India, met the officials of the Union Health Ministry and placed all the evidence before them. A Joint Secretary of the Ministry wrote to the Government of MP for consideration of this evidence and keeping the Ministry informed about the course of action the government decided to take. But things did not move. Thereafter Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), after a double-blind control trial on the gas victims, reported, "In conclusion, the lexicological studies carried out so far have ruled out the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. They have clearly shown that at least in the survivors there is evidence of chronic cyanide poisoning operating as a result of either inhalation of hydrocyanic acid or more probably subsequent generation of cyanide radical from the cyanogen pool in gas afflicted victims. The changes in urinary thiocyanate and in blood gas before and after thiosulphate treatment substantiated the above findings." The ICMR recommended measures for mass detoxification of the gas-affected people living within two kilometres of the factory with NaTS and published a precise schedule for such treatment. Again nothing happened.

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