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Speaking out for the survivors

  • Story Highlights
  • Vimlendu attends a rally in support of the Bhopal poison gas disaster survivors
  • The 1984 disaster killed more than 3,000 people, causes ongoing issues
  • Locals joined student demonstrators to petition the Indian government
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By Vimlendu Jha for CNN
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Vimlendu Jha is the founder and head of Swechha -- We For Change Foundation which is based in India's capital, New Delhi.

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The Bhopal gas disaster killed more than 3,000 people instantly and has had negative effects on local people.

Swechha started out as an organization to combat the pollution of the city's main waterway, the river Yamuna. Today it deals with the environmental issues that affect several aspects of Delhi.

Vimlendu leads volunteers and local children to key sites around the city to tackle the ecological problems, as well as to raise awareness of the issues. Follow his efforts in his blogs and video diaries.

March 6, 2008
The park is situated on top of the metro station and is surrounded by big showrooms and food joints from all sides.

Suddenly, the visitors at the park found a number of college going students carrying placards, waving pamphlets, adjusting cameras, arranging exhibition slides and musical instruments.

No matter whether they knew each other or not -- mention Bhopal and there was an instant camaraderie. This drew attention from hundreds of others who were visiting the park. Soon, the place was bustling with more than 300 people for one cause: no more Bhopals.

Immediately, students got busy with preparing the stage. Some put up the banners which said loud and clear "Prime Minister walk your talk" while others did a quick round of pamphleteering and appealed to people to join the candle vigil in solidarity for Bhopal. Few others made sure that all things are easily available. And sure they did manage to have a chaos free event!

The amphitheater soon became a live gallery. Pictures of the disaster, ongoing contamination, children born with severe birth defects were laid on the ground along with pictures of peoples' action across the world in support of Bhopal.

People began reading the slides first out of curiosity and then with the sheer realization of what Bhopalis have been suffering. The look on their face said it all. And a usually subdued amphitheater now echoed the sentiments of many who were shocked and bewildered at the government's continued apathy.

We were also joined by a number of youngsters who had generally come for a stroll in the park.

They not only volunteered to distribute the pamphlets on the roads outside the park, but in fact read the whole pamphlet to be able to explain the matter to any one. Many of them took our contacts and volunteered to organize Bhopal exhibitions in their colleges.

But most inspiring was the eagerness with which they joined us in our efforts. They kept telling us: "let us get together on this, let us take the issue to one and all!"

The banner that we kept at the end of the exhibition was soon covered with messages to Prime Minister. Hard hitting reactions! But, the high point was when a very elderly person asked us "when will you give it to the Prime Minister? Don't forget to call me, I want to walk with you. 850 kilometers is no joke and that too second time!"

After more than two hours or so we headed off, happy to know that we have given the government a shock, warned them that we are observing their stance on Bhopal closely and, informed people in Delhi how a government can force the old, sick and ailing to walk again. This on the very first day of the Padyatra, they should expect more noise from us because we will not accept anything less than a fair deal for the survivors this time. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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