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Archbishop backs Bhopal plea to Obama

By Saji Thomas, Bhopal

Bhopal gas tragedy victims demanding justice from visiting US President Barack Obama have won support from the city’s archbishop.

They have “suffered immensely and continue to suffer because of the inadequate attention paid to rehabilitate them,” Archbishop Leo Cornelio said. Obama could “make a difference to their lives,” he said.

More than 250 survivors of the world’s worst industrial disaster and their supporters protested in New Delhi on Nov. 6 as Obama’s three-day visit to India got under way.

They urged the president to do more to extradite the former boss of the Union Carbide, the US firm responsible for the disaster and sought Obama’s help in pursuing their liability claims.

Archbishop Cornelio of Bhopal heads the Catholic Church in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

He appealed the US president to understand the victims’ plight and initiate steps for a full and final settlement rather than letting the case linger on any further.

The prelate told on Nov. 8 that the issue of compensation had become an endless political game with no one interested in a final settlement. He wants Obama to take “a clear stand” to compensate the victims on international standard.

The disaster struck in 1984 when some 40 tons of poisonous methyl isocyanate leaked out of the Carbide plant killing 5,295 people immediately and more than 25,000 since then. People are dying from water, soil and environment pollution from the now defunct factory 25-years later.

But Obama did not mention the Bhopal gas victims’s claims during his visit
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