Some 5,000 widows of the Bhopal gas tragedy haven’t got pension for the last 13 months. The Rs 1,000 per month pension was stopped by the previous government led by former chief minister Kamal Nath in December 2019.
In 2010, following a recommendation of a group of ministers, a pension of Rs 500 per month was approved for the widows. It was later hiked to Rs 1,000 per month, until it was stopped in December 2019.
“Gas tragedy-affected women used to get pension at the time of BJP. Kamal Nath stopped it. We are trying to start it soon. It was an insensitive decision because Congress only supported the rich,” Vishwas Sarang, Minister for Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation, had said in August last year.
Yet, the promise has not materialised for the 5,000 women.
Raisa Bi is among thousands of women who lost their husbands in the Bhopal gas tragedy. “I can’t go to the ADM office again and again. It has been months. I can’t buy medicines also. It’s difficult to survive,” she said.
Many of the women say they are not getting ration too. Shakeela Bi, a resident of JP Nagar, said, “These politicians make false promises. What to do? We are not getting ration. I am having food once a day.”
The pension disbursement started in April 2011. Rs 35 crore was provided by the then union government for this purpose.
“I had a meeting with Union Minister Sadanand Gowda ji. We are making a provision for lifelong pension,” Mr Sarang said.
The Congress is not convinced of the government’s intention to restart pension. “Not only gas tragedy victims, they have not paid pension to elders also, they want to rule by just giving false promises,” former law minister and Congress leader PC Sharma said.
The pension was discontinued despite the centre giving Rs 272 crore in 2010. At least Rs 147 crore for social and economic well-being of gas tragedy victims is lying unused.
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