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23 Nov 2009

Akshai Jain, Mint [India]

Their story is the story of Bhopal [India]

The intervening night of 2-3 December 1984 changed life for everyone in Bhopal...Rashida Bee...[and]...Her colleague Champa Devi Shukla...would have been just another housewife in a basti [slum] in Bhopal...Instead, they now represent the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy at conferences and demonstrations across the world. In 2004, they received the Goldman Environmental Prize, given to grass roots activists, for the work they have done with Bhopal’s poor. And they’re managing trustees of the Chingari Trust that works with children with congenital defects born to survivors of the disaster...Both remember the months after they came back to Bhopal as being the worst. Every member of their families was suffering from effects of exposure to the gas leak....There was no money and no work to be had...the women got involved with communities in the slums around the Union Carbide factory. Most of these people were drinking water contaminated by the chemicals dumped in the factory. As a result, the incidence of birth defects in children there was alarmingly high.

Part of the following timelines

India: 25 years after Bhopal gas disaster, health and environmental impact still contested

Union Carbide/Dow lawsuit (re Bhopal, filed in India)