Executive Summary On December 3, 1984, toxic poisonous methyl isocyanate gas leaked from Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL’s) pesticide plant in Bhopal. The gas leak triggered a disaster that is now widely recognized as the world worst industrial catastrophe. Thousands of people were killed instantly and more than 25,000 people have died of gas-related illnesses, several thousands more maimed for life since. Union Carbide negotiated a settlement with the Indian Government in 1989 for $470 million – a total of only $370 to $533 per victim – a sum too small to pay for most medical bills.
In 1996, t elve years after the disaster, Union Carbide became part of the Dow Chemical w Corporation, which flatly refused to assume any liabilities in India – or clean up the toxic poisons left behind saying that it was the responsibility of the Madhya Pradesh state government which had taken over the site. Today twenty five years since that fateful night, lakhs of people still living in the vicinity of the factory are exposed to toxic chemicals that continue to leach from tonnes of waste lying within the UCIL premises causing groundwater and soil contamination.
As a result a whole new generation continues to get sick, from cancer and birth defects to everyday impacts o aches and pains, f rashes, fevers, eruptions of boils, headaches, nausea, lack of appetite, dizziness, and constant exhaustion. During the last four years survivors’ organizations have renewed their campaign to both get justice for the survivors as well as cleaning up of the hazardous waste. This compilation of selected news stories covering the last four years is a small effort to highlight this campaign as reported by the mainstream media. For an in-depth understanding of the issues see www. ndiaenvironmentportal. org. in/indepth/term/2542. A comprehensive collection of these up-to-date news clippings, research papers, lab studies, reports, documents, opinions and court judgments etc have now been made available by the Centre for Science and Environment at www. indiaenvironmentportal. org. in/taxonomy/term/2544. Links to selected CSE research papers and lab report. http://www. downtoearth. org. in/webexclusives/factsheet_1. htm http://www. indiaenvironmentportal. org. in/node/292685 http://www. downtoearth. org. in/default20091130. htm http://www. downtoearth. org. n/webexclusives/site_photos/Site_photos. htm BHOPAL GAS DISASTER [ JANUARY – DECEMBER, 2006] Gas victims’ bodies celebrate judgement Organisations of Gas victims had celebrated favourable decisions from the Judge John F Keenan of the District Court of New York for the first time in the history of the case regarding the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal. On January 10, Judge Keenan had issued a letter rogatory for obtaining the documents from Eveready Industries India Limited that could potentially establish the nexus between this Indian Company and Union Carbide, USA and DOW Chemical USA.
Sharma their Attorney General who had been fighting for the survivors in the US Courts since 1999 when the legal action was initiated. In his decision Judge has agreed to seek judicial assistance from the Indian Government, to compel EIIL to produce documents related to its corporate structure and affiliations and liabilities concerning environmental contamination caused by the Bhopal Factory. The Judge has requested that plaintiff’s attorney Sharma be notified regarding examination of documents before the appropriate courts in India.
Two appeals on this behalf of people affected by soil and ground water contamination from Bhopal, are currently pending before the Second circuit Court of Appeals, which was decided in favour of the Bhopal victims on two earlier occasions. If successfully the legal action in the US Federal Court will force Union Carbide to pay further compensation far greater than the settlement amount of 470 million dollars it paid in 1989. Central Chronicle / Bhopal/ 13/01/06 Girl born after gas tragedy gets Compensation twice Staff Reporter / Bhopal Compensation to gas victims was disbursed off to help them recover from the tragedy.
However, few denizens had not only fraudulently got the names of their kin included in the compensation list, they also managed to obtain the compensation more than once for the same individual. Amazingly, the compensation was allegedly sanctioned by the same deputy commissioner twice without noticing the irregularity. A woman Naznee Siddiqui allegedly got the name of her daughter Faiza Siddiqui included in the beneficiaries’ list despite the girl being born three years after the gas tragedy. The alleged fraud did not end here, as the woman claimed the compensation twice in the name of her daughter.
Interestingly, the woman in an affidavit claimed that her daughter was present at the time of gas leakage but the mark sheet of the girl stated her date of birth as September 30, 1987. Both the claims were sanctioned in 1999 by the same deputy commissioner, RK Bhave, wherein the girl was made eligible for compensation of Rs 25,000 each. The claim numbers of the girl were 138071 and 139067. Apart from the girl, the mother and her son also obtained compensation of Rs 70,000 and Rs 25,000 in the year 1994 and 1999, respectively. The claims clearly contained the name of the girl, her parents’ name, residence and age.
Despite this, they were sanctioned twice in four months. The girl was also directed to remain present in the claims court on March 18 and July 19, 1999, to receive compensation as per the claimed letters. Bhartiya Jan Morcha district president Pradeep Khandelwal raised the issue and said that hundreds of such cases were approved by greasing the palms of employees posted in the office of Gas Welfare Commissioner. Assistant Registrar of Gas Welfare DS Solanki told The Pioneer that the claim was accepted only after going through attached documents that include age proof.
Speaking on the particular case, the assistant commissioner said the genuineness of the claim could be cross checked after verification of attached document. Mr Solanki assured that they would again go through the documents and take action against the guilty on discovering the fraud. Pioneer / Delhi 23/01/06 Bhopal gas victims walk all the way to Delhi As many as 39 survivors of the Bhopal gas leak tragedy today reached Delhi for a do-or-die battle after a 800-km trek from Bhopal that took them 33 days.
Stressing that justice still eludes victims of the Union Carbide chemical leak tragedy, the ‘padyatris’, several of them above 60 years of age, say they will start a fast unto death here next month till their sixpoint charter of demands is met by the government. The demands include setting up of a national commission on Bhopal to oversee medical and social rehabilitation of the victims for the next 30 years, supply of safe drinking water to communities currently drinking poisoned water, speedy prosecution of the accused, 1 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster ncluding Union Carbide Corporation and its former chairman; environmental remediation, a ban on Dow Chemical and its subsidiary Union Carbide’s business in India and memorialising the disaster story by including it in school and college curriculum. “It is sad that every government since the tragedy in 1984 has prioritised the interests of private companies instead of the people who have suffered. The killers are yet to be brought to justice,” said Rashida Bi, who heads the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karamchari Sangh. Rashida Bi has lost six members of her own family due to medical complications since that December night in 1984.
Toxic wastes are still polluting the water in the area threatening the lives of communities living there. The plant site was yet to be decontaminated. Tribune/ New Delhi/ 26/03/06 Monday, the protesters had organised a march from Nizamuddin Park to Jantar Mantar. Threaten indefinite fast They threatened to go on an indefinite fast if their demands were not met. Representatives from Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan, trade union members and members of various nonGovernment organisations had also joined them.
The protestors have been demanding setting up of a national commission on Bhopal to oversee medical and social rehabilitation. As many as 39 survivors of the gas tragedy had reached the Capital on Saturday after a month -long, 800-km walk from Bhopal. Hindu/ New Delhi/ 29/03/06 Cabinet nod on compensation to Bhopal victims Special Correspondent NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the implementation of the 2004 Supreme Court order for disbursement of pro-rata additional compensation on one-on-one basis to victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy.
It also decided that the Government will take responsibility for meeting the shortfall of about Rs. 50 crore, as estimated by the Office of Welfare Commissioner. The Cabinet also gave its nod for the proposal of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to open its South Asia Regional Office here to improve the efficacy of the Federation in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of its activities in the region.
The regional office would, among other things, coordinate and advise on development projects and programmes of the national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies of the 2 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster Bhopal prote sters detained in Delhi Staff Reporter NEW DELHI: Over 100 protesters, comprising mostly women, demanding the rehabilitation of survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy were detained by the police for staging a dharna outside Shastri Bhavan here on Tuesda y. The protesters refused to leave without a positive response from the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Ram Vilas Paswan.
Around 4 p. m. , the police detained them and took them to the Parliament Street police station. They were kept there till late eveing. “We are contemplating legal action against them as we want to discourage the practice of such big protests in the highsecurity zones,” said a police officer. Two of the protestors were injured when they were forcibly removed by the police. On countries in the region, assist them in the event of a disaster and also provide training to their staff and volunteers.
The Cabinet also cleared a proposal to withdraw the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill to bring in a more comprehensive legislation. The Bill was introduced in Parliament in 2003. Union Defence Minister and Cabinet spokesperson Pranab Mukherjee said the Bill was being withdrawn as a Parliament Standing Committee had recommended a long list of changes in it. The Government thought that instead of introducing the change in the Bill, it would be better to withdraw it and bring in a new legislation that incorporated the recommendations.
The Cabinet also gave its nod for signing an agreement with Kuwait for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion in respect of taxes on income and cleared a proposal for India to join the memorandum of understanding on the conservation and management of marine turtles and their habitats in the Indian Ocean and South East Asia. Hindu / Delhi 06/04/06 Bhopal victims step up agitation NEW DELHI: Over 400 survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster and their ympathisers who on Monday organised a huge “die in” here, covering themselves in white shrouds and lying on the road while symbolic figures of death danced through the “corpses”. The gas victims and their sympathisers, who have been demonstrating here for the last fifteen days, announced that six persons (three survivors and three sympathisers) would go on an indefinite hunger strike from Tuesday. Demonstrators said that though the Ministry of Chemicals had been sympathetic to their demands, it was up to the Prime Minister to clear any decision related to the Bhopal victims.
They said the Union Cabinet’s approval for the implementation of the Supreme Court orders of 2004 for disbursement of pro-rata additional compensation on a one-to-one basis to the victims did not address their present demands. “This money was long due and a result of an agreement between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Central Government that any shortfall in converting the money payable from dollars to rupees would be taken care by the Central Government. It has nothing to with our present demands,” said Nityanand Jayaram, environmental activist and writer.
In a statement issued on Monday, four organisations, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action, and Bhopal ki Awaaz cited a 2001 study published by the Madhya Pradesh government’s Centre for Rehabilitation Studies that has attributed at least 350 deaths annually to gas-related ailments. Hindu / Delhi 11/04/06 year 1998-2004 and demanded that an amount of Rs 37. 65 crore which was pen ding in the custody of a court in Bhopal be released to the trust.
This amount had been lying attached in the Magistrate court in Bhopal to secure the presence of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) Chairman in a criminal case, who has since been declared an absconder. The Hospital, which is meant to exclusively treat the Bhopal gas victims, has already received a sum of Rs 518 crore till date. The sum of Rs 37. 65 crore had been obtained after the sell-off of shares belonging to UCC. compensation amount should be referred to the Constitution Bench. It may be recalled that in December 1984, 2000 persons were killed and over 20,000 ere injured when the poisonous gas MIC leaked from the UCC unit in Bhopal. Pioneer /New Delhi 13/04/06 Parents of Bhopal victims protest in capital Parents o f children suffering from physical disability as a result of carbide contamination, after the Bhopal gas tragedy, came together in the capital on Saturday demanding immediate steps from the government to guarantee better health for Bhopal’s children. More than 70 children with birth deformities have been identified from among the communities who have been exposed to carbide poisoning in drinking water, revealed protesters who have entered the fifth day of hunger strike.
Expressing disappointment over the meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being called off on Friday, Ms Champa Devi Shukla one the protesters on indefinite hungerstrike said, “We are extremely disappointed. Three gas victims are on the fifth day of the hungerstrike, and the Prime Minis ter has found no time to meet us, despite getting two months notice. ” All three sons of 50-yearold Shahida Bee are suffering from physical disorders. My first son fell ill when he was eight years old. My second son was born dead and with a half-formed skull.
All the kids in our family are physically retarded,” said Shahida, a resident of Blue Moon colony in Bhopal. Explaining that they are forced to use the contaminated tubewell water because of scarcity of water, the children in the area are developing s kin diseases. Gas victims allege bungling of funds Pioneer News Service / New Delhi The plea by Bhopal Gas tragedy victims alleging misappropriation of funds allotted to Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust meant for their treatment, got a shot in the arm with the Supreme Court permitting ‘Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila dyog Sangathan’ to inspect the audited account from 1998 to 2004.
The issue came before the court after the Trust, represented through senior advocate RK Jain presented the audited accounts from the The trust, presently headed by former Chief Justice of India Justice AM Ahmadi had claimed the immediate rel ease of this amount in the wake of increased cost of maintenance of the hospital However the petitioners alleged misappropriation of funds on massive scale. It further pointed out to court that the accounts for the period 199698 have not been kept.
The Bench of Justices BN Srikrishna and LS Panta while posting the matter for May 2 observed, “in order to remove misgivings about the accounts, the advocate -on-record for the pe titioner and a chartered accountant to be appointed by the petitioner shall be permitted to wrong is found in the Trust accounts, then an order for release of Rs 37. 65 crore shall be passed on the next date of hearing.
The court also decided to hear on May 2, an application filed by the petitioner seeking to set aside the compensation amount of US $ 440 million arrived at between UCC and the Central Government on grounds that it was totally inadequate, keeping in view the loss of life and property. The agreement was chalked out under the supervision of a Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice of India RS Pathak. The court will also decide on the question whether this application challenging the 3 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster “After the accident I used to have fever.
My babies inherited the same disease and they all died in their infancy,” said 40year-old Shanti Naidu, resident of Shankar Nagar in Bhopal. The fate of 60-year- old Tusi Bai is the same. While his son has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, all the women in the family are suffering from severe physical disorders. The contamination is having adverse effects on the health of the children, stressed protesters of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. Families, who have been victims of the gas tragedy and carbide contamination come to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister and present the sixpoint demands.
Asian Age/ New Delhi 16/04/06 Govt agrees to major demands of Bhopal victims Vibha Sharma Stating to have registered a “major victory” after the “government conceded to four of their six long-standing demands”, Bhopal gas tragedy survivors today called off their “international hunger strike” and the agitation that has been continuing at the prot st venue e near Jantar Mantar, here, for the past 20 days now. The protestors, who met the Prime Minister for about 30 minutes this morning, later said, “Dr Manmohan Singh assured a 1 0-member delegation, comprising Bhopal gas tragedy victims and upporters, that their demands related to clean water, clean-up of toxic wastes, setting up of a national commission for medical and economic rehabilitation will be met. ” Following this, the agitators, who had walked into the Capital on March 25 after an 800-km “padyatra” from Bhopal, ended their dharna with a note of solidarity for the Narmada struggle. Happy scenes could be witnessed at the protest venue with victims and supporters hugging and congratulating each other after this “major victory”.
Activist Nityanand Jayaraman, however, expressed disappointment over the Prime Minister turning down their two demands. “Dr Manmohan Sing h told the delegation that he was powerless to take any extra legal measures to hold the Union Carbide Corporation or its parent company Dow Chemical accountable in response to a demand by survivors that the UCC and Dow should be held liable for the continuing disaster in Bhopal. ” “The Prime Minister said we have to do business… we have to move ahead. India has to survive despite these tragedies.
Please leave politics to politicians. He said the UCC was a foreignbased multinational and assured that he would explore whatever options existed within the law to hold the company accountable,” Jayaraman added. The activists expressed “ shame and outraged at the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy having openly admitted to his inability to pressurise an American multinational,” and resolved to take direct and legal action against Dow and the UCC’s businesses, nationally and internationally over the coming months. We will hold dharnas in front of their offices everywhere in the world,’’ wellknown Bhopal activist Rashida Bi told The Tribune. And in the words of activist Satinath Sarangi, “At a time when India is set to more than double its industrial capacity, the Prime Minister’s reluctance to take extra legal measures to pressure multinational corporations is deplorable and should set the alarm bells ringing”. 4 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster Sarangi added that, “ It doesn’t make any sense to direct our protests on the matter of corporate accountability towards a man who has expressed his powerlessness on this matter. “ The Dow should beware now because all our energies will be focused on putting the brakes on its business in India,” Goldman award winner Champa Devi Shukla declared. There, however, has been no official word on the meeting. While the Madhya Pradesh Government recently announced the allotment of Rs 100 crore for the construction of a memorial in Bhopal, protestors have been told that the story of the Bhopal disaster would be included in educational curricula developed by the NCERT.
There also have been assurances regarding providing clean water to some colonies. Three activists will accompany high-level team led by the Secretary, Ministry of Chemicals, to finalise details regarding provision of safe water and the participation of survivors in the construction of a memorial in Bhopal. Josh Imeson and Diane Wilson, both of who have been fasting in solidarity with the survivors, also called off their fast.
Diane Wilson, a long -time Bhopal supporter, who is on the fourth day of her indefinite fast in the USA, was in the process of being informed about this “major victory”, said Jayaraman. The Bhopal campaign, which became somewhat overshadowed by the ongoing NBA struggle in the Capital, has been receiving good national and international support. The PMO received nearly 3000 faxes and more than 350 persons have signed up to fast for a day or longer in solidarity with the Bhopal campaign. Film star Amir Khan also stopped by at the dharna site last week to express solidarity with protestors.
Twenty one years and many struggles later, 39 survivors of the worst industrial disaster of the world, the Bhopal gas leak tragedy walked into the Capital after a 800-km trek from Bhopal that took them 33 days for a do-or-die battle on March 25. Tribune/ New Delhi/ 18/04/06 Dow shareholders want instant relief for Bhopal victims Rahul Noronha | Bhopal Resolution at Thursday’s AGM to force issue —- Survivors of the dea dly 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal may have just found new allies, and that too in the most unlikely quarters, in their 21-year-long struggle for justice and adequate compensation.
More than 15,000 people have died since the night of December 2-3, 1984, when tonnes of methyl isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. Many more and their offspring have been maimed for their lives. Dow Chemical purchased Union Carbide in 2001 for 10. 3 billion in stock and debt. Dow has publicly stated several times that the Union Carbide settlement payments have already fulfilled Dow’s financial responsibility for the disaster.
However, efforts by survivors to get Dow to clean the heavily contaminated site are on appeal in a US district court. Shareholders of Dow Chemical have now decided to challenge CEO Andrew Liveris and the company’s top management at its annual meeting of stockholders on Thursday. They want Dow to take new initiatives pertaining to the welfare of the survivors of the world’s worst industrial disaster. Shareholders feel that more than 21 years after the disaster, the ongoing dispute threaten Dow’s reputation and business in India.
A shareholder resolution on the agenda for this year’s annual meeting asserts that it would be respectful of human rights and, more importantly, also a good business decision for Dow to undertake new initiatives to address the needs of survivors. The resolution requests the company to produce a document listing the new initiatives by the management pertaining to the environmental, health and social concerns of the survivors of the gas leak at the Union Carbide plant. The shareholders who filed the resolution representing a total of 4. million shares (current value: $186 million) include the New York City Fire Department (NYCFD) Pension Fund, New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF), Boston Common Asset Management, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), Dominican Sisters: Grand Rapids, Sisters of Holy Cross and Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit Charitable Trust. The move seems to have gone down well with those advocating the cause of gas survivors in Bhopal. Satinath Shadangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, speaking to The Pioneer, termed the resolution “a significant move as far as shareholder activism is concerned. He said “though shareholders of Dow have been supporting us for the last three years, the resolution to be moved on Thursday is bound to have a positive fallout. ” Pioneer / Delhi 11/05/06 Gas hit welcome Centre’s decision Bhopal, May 13 Leaders of four organisations working with survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal on Saturday hailed the formation of the coordination committee by the Government of India. However, they strongly condemned the composition of the committee that is dominated by government officials, that includes NP Mishra, a former 5 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster edical advisor to Union Carbide and that fails to include the majority of survivors’ organisations in Bhopal. These four organisations have written to the Prime Minister requesting his personal intervention to ensure a more balanced committee that includes their representatives. The four organisations, who led the 800 kilometer long march to New Delhi in February this year had called specifically for the setting up of such a crucial committee as their first priority. The Prime Minister conceded to the demand on April 17 after meeting with representatives of these organisations.
In line with the demands of the four organisations, the coordination committee is expected to plan and implement schemes for medical, economic and social rehabilitation of the people poisoned by Union Carbide in Bhopal. It is a travesty, they stated on Saturday, that none of their representatives have yet been incorporated into the coordination commit tee. The organisations have also taken strong exception to the inclusion of Dr NP Mishra, former medical advisor to Union Carbide in Bhopal in the committee.
According to them Dr Mishra is responsible for thousands of preventable deaths because of his opposition to the administration of sodium thiosulphate to the survivors in the aftermath of the disaster. Many lives could have been saved, they asserted on Saturday, if gas affected people had received this injection in time. Administration of Sodium Thiosulphate helpful as it was in detoxifying the body, also demonstrated that contrary to Union Carbide’s position that only lungs and eyes were damaged by the toxic gases the poisons had actually entered the blood stream and aused damage to almost every organ in the body. At least on of the nine members of the committee, Ms Madhumita Dutta from New Delhi has already tendered her resignation to protest against the imbalance of the committee, the inclusion of Dr Mishra and exclusion of the leaders of the four organisations. It was informed by Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action at a press conference here on Saturday. On the occasion large number of members of the four organizations were also present. Central Chronicle / Bhopal 14/05/06 No security lapse in Carbide plant:
By Our Staff Reporter Bhopal, A former senior official of the Union Carbide’s pesticide plant today denied that lax security measures had resulted in 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, which claimed few thousand lives and affected several lakh people. Deposing before Chief Judicial Magistrate Ravindra Kumar in a criminal case related to the tragedy, the then Union Carbide India Limited production manager SP Choudhary, in his, written statement, said there was no laxity in security arrangement in the factory. The CBI and other investigating agencies had, not succeeded in establishing a strong reason behind the tragedy.
However, allegations were levelled, that the factory’s design, was faulty. The pesticide plant was spread over an area of seven eight-acre land and functioned round the clock. He said it was wrong to say that inadequate safety measures at the plant facing closure due to economic reasons led to the incident. In fact, a simple maintenance campaign was launched between September and November 1984. Choudhary rejected allegations levelled against him and pleaded the court to absolve him of the charges. Earlier, the then UCIL nonexecutive chairman Keshub Mahindra and the then UCIL vice-chairman Kishore Kamdar recorded their statements yesterday.
The statement of the then shift supervisor Shakeel Qureshi was being recorded today. Voluntary organisations Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti and Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sagathan, who are the interven ors appeared together in February. They included Mahindra, Choudhary Qureshi, the then UCIL works manager J Mukund, the then UCIL production manager KV Shetty, managing director Vijay Gokhale, vice-president Kishore Kamdar and another accused A K Srivastava. After the lunch recess, the CJM fixed the next dates of hearing as July 11 and 12. After Choudhary, Qureshi’s statement was recorded.
Statements were recorded under section 313 of the CrPC. The state government was represented by CBI Counsel C Sahay and Advocate Ajay Gupta was the defence counsel. Central Chronicle / Bhopal/ 10/06/06) (UCIL). The court had recorded the statements of former UCIL Bhopal plant production manager KV Shetty the other day. Recording of statements of former UCIL chairman Keshub Mahindra, former UCIL works manager J Mukund, former managing director Vijay Gokhale, former UCIL Vice president Kishore Kamdar former production manager SP Choudhary and former shift supervisor Shakil Ibrahim Qureshi had been completed earlier.
During the hearing, the prosecution agency, CBI, sought permission to ask more questions from the accused as investigation into the case was continuing. Accepting the request, the court directed to make available the prescribed questionnaire to the accused. Meanwhile, Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti and Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan today submitted an application before the court saying the investigation in the case had not been completed and the chargesheet framed against the accused in 1987 needs to be argued.
Central Chronicle/ Bhopal/ 13/07/06 Declare entire Bhopal as gas-hit’ The Madhya Pradesh government today passed a non-official resolution urging the Centre to declare all 56 wards of this city as affected by the 1984 Gas Tragedy – the world’s worst industrial disaster – and thereby eligible for compensation. Replying to a discussion on the resolution tabled by Umashankar Gupta (Bharatiya Janata Party), Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Babulal Gaur said, all wards were affected by the tragedy on the intervening night of December 2-3,. 1984. At that juncture, the Centre did not consult the state Court records statements of UCIL officials The Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) on Wednesday completed recording statements of all the main accused in connection with a criminal case related to the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster. CJM Ravindra Singh recorded The statement of AK Srivastava, a representative of the Union Carbide India Limited 6 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster government while reaching an understanding with Union Carbide. Therefore those in the remaining 20 wards are being denied . ompensation. ” Referring to the AR Antulay Committee’s recommendations, Gaur said that the Committee also suggested review of the Centre’s decision. “At a Group of Ministers meeting in Delhi, the Centre later recommended inclusion of all the wards for compensation. However, compensation has been provided to all those who submitted medical certificates,” he pointed out. Madhya Pradesh has urged the Centre to arrange for an additional Rs 763 crore for the 20 wards so that a minimum of Rs 25,000 could be provided per person.
Raising a voice of protest, former Gas, Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation minister Arif Aqueel blamed the BJP for delay in declaring entire Bhopal as Gas Tragedy-affected as that party’s government took no action on the matter while in power at the Centre. Ram Lakhan Sharma (Communist Party of India Marxist) and IMP Verma (Bahujan Samaj Party) also took part in the discussion. Central Chronicle / Bhopal 04/11/06 18,000 people registered with it for long-term treatment through Allopathic, Ayurveda and yoga systems. This year, from January to November, 6,608 gas victims, including 4,524 females and 2,084 males, visited the clinic.
Mr. Sarangi said that facilities for eye-care, largescale production of herbal medicines and microbiological tests had been added to the clinic. Efforts had been taken to encourage affected communities to develop their own medicinal garden. Mr. Sarangi stressed the need for a clinic in each of the affected communities. He said employment, pension, safe drinking water, medical research, health surveillance, besides a cleanup of the soil, and groundwater contaminated by the toxic waste at the Carbide plant site were essential for the wellbeing of the population.
The clinic, which provides free care to gas victims, would hold a four-day exhibition at the Swaraj Bhavan here to mark the 22nd anniveotographs, documents and other material linked to the gas leak would be displayed. Hindu/ Delhi / 30/11/06 Over 6,600 gas victims treated Clinic has over 18,000 people registered # Clinic has completed 10 years of service # Stress for clinic in each of the affected communities BHOPAL : More than 6,600 people affected by the Union Carbide plant gas leak in 1984 have been treated this year at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic here.
Addressing presspersons here on Wednesday, managing trustee Satinath Sarangi said the clinic had completed 10 years of service and had about Bhopal gas victims getting sub-standard drugs: NGOs “Criminal neglect of medical care by State Government” BHOPAL: Four nongovernment organisations working here among the victims of the Union Carbide gas disaster of 1984 and ground water contamination have alleged after conducting raids on Wednesday on two medical stores of the Madhya Pradesh Gas Relief Department that a large number of expired and substandard drugs are being used for treatment of the gas victims. 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, representatives of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action, and Bhopal ki Aawaaz condemned the State Government saying that it had shown “criminal neglect” towards medical care of the victims.
Upon raiding two medical stores of the Gas Relief Department, they found a large number of expired and substandard drugs, charged the activist leaders, accusing the State Government of deliberately causing harm to the victims of Union Carbide. Of 83 samples of medicines collected from the store, 30 were found to have crossed their expiry date. Many of these expired medicines were antibiotics such as Norfloxacin, Ampicillin and Tetracyclin and steroids such as Prednisolone that could cause serious damage to people’s health.
More than half of the samples collected were of medicines manufactured in Indore, the activists said. According to them, three Indore firms that are among the largest suppliers of drugs to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department have been found to be producing substandard drugs by the Drug Controller of Rajasthan this year. In fact, two truckloads of medicines from two of these companies were being unloaded at the office of the Chief Medical Officer when the citizens’ raid took place.
The leaders said they had been campaigning against the poor quality of medicines at hospitals meant for gas victims for many years. They alleged large-scale corruption and said the issue of poor quality of medicines had even been brought before the Supreme Court by the Monitoring Committee in October 2005 when the Committee had recommended that random samples of medicines be taken and sent for testing at reputed labs. According to the activist leaders, the State Government has not sent any medicine sample for quality testing so far.
On October 5 this year the representatives of the four survivors’ organisations had raised the issue of “poor quality medicines” at the meeting of the Coordination Committee on Bhopal (CCB) that has been set up on the directives of the Prime Minister. At this meeting, attended by a Secretary to the State Government, the Director of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation and the Chief Medical Officer (Gas Relief), they had presented a list of 22 medicines from the medical store of Khan Shakir Ali Khan Hospital for investigation.
The activist leaders, Rashida Bi and Champa Devi Shukla of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Shahid Noor of Bhopal ki Aawaaz, Rachna Dhingra and Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action told media persons that they would go on an indefinite fast to put pressure on the State Government on issues of medical care, employment, social rehabilitation and environmental remediation. They said that the fast, to coincide with the New Year, would be for a new beginning in relief and rehabilitation of the victims of Union Carbide disaster.
Hindu / Delhi / 15/12/06 8 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster BHOPAL GAS DISASTER [JANUARY – DECEMBER, 2007] To get Dow to invest, Tata offers to lead initiative on Bhopal SHISHIR GUPTA IN a first-o f-its-kind corporate move, Tata group chairman Ratan Tata has volunteered his services to the UPA government for “remediation” of the Bhopal gas tragedy site to pave the way for Dow Chemicals, now the majority stakeholder of Union Carbide Ltd, to invest in India.
Tata’s initiative comes after Dow Chemicals President and CEO Andrew N Liveris expressed his apprehension in making large-scale investments in India after the De partment of Chemicals and Fertilizers filed an application in a PIL in a district court sug gesting that the $46-billion chemical giant should con tribute Rs 100 crore ($22 mil lion) for remediation of the site. At the India -US CEO forum meeting in New York last October, Liveris pointed out that the liability, if any, is of Union Carbide, which still exists as a separate company, and no liability rests with Dow as it was not in the picture when the disaster took place 22 years ago.
Dow purchased Union Car bide Ltd in 1999. While Dow has made it clear that it would be willing to contribute voluntarily to the remediation of the site as part of the Indian CEOs’ corporate effort, it wants the government to clarify that it does not hold Dow legally re sponsible for the liabilities of Union Carbide. Writing to the MEA on November 8, Liveris, who is a member of Indo-US CEO forum, said that it was not possible for Dow to invest in India unless the issue was cleared. The Dow CEO said that it wants to work with the local industry CEOs, Madhya Pradesh Government and New Delhi to expedite the remediation efforts.
However, the positive note is that Dow has been allowed collaboration with Reliance Industries Ltd by the Ministry of Industry after taking a green signal from the Law Ministry. The foreign collaboration approval was given to Dow in October, signalling that India has not blacklisted Dow as an investor. Dow now has large-scale plans to invest in Madhya Pradesh and proposes to even employ relatives of the Bhopal gas tragedy survivors. West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has also indicated to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) representatives that he is looking towards Dow setting up a chemical industry in his state.
So in a bid to break the deadlock, Tata wrote to Planning Commission Vice Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on November 28 that he was willing “to lead and find funding for remediation of site above and below ground” in Bhopal. It is understood that Tata wants to set up a corpus with the help of other Indian companies and Dow to clean up the Bhopal plant site. Given that the issue is complex and has implications for investors, the UPA government is toying with the idea of setting up of a Committee of Secretaries under Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi to examine Tata’s proposal and impleme ntation of the site remediation plan.
An alternative is an inter -ministerial meeting with Tata or his representatives. Dow Chemicals purchased Union Carbide after all civil claims were settled as per the Supreme Court’s decision. However, NGOs, in a PIL filed in the district court, have claimed that Dow must be held responsible for the remediation measures at the Bhopal site. But Dow says that while it is comfortable with the case 9 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster against Union Carbide proceeding in the court, it finds the Department of Chemicals suggestion that Dow fork out Rs 100 crore as an interpretation that the government was holding Dow liable.
In a letter to the Ministry of Industry on December 8, the Charge d’ Affairs of the US Embassy in Delhi urged the government to withdraw the Rs 100-crore claim on Dow. While the top leadership of the UPA government is in favour of burying the legacy, a senior Cabinet Minister told The Indian Express: “It is a sad history but should not bring about a stalemate. Dow has come to work in India, it is not shying and running away… if we do not help Dow settle this, then the company will move to Thailand or Vietnam. ” local industry CEOs, Madhya Pradesh Government and New Delhi to expedite the remediation efforts.
However, the positive note is that Dow has been allowed collaboration with Reliance Industries Ltd by the Ministry of Industry after taking a green signal from the Law Ministry. The foreign collaboration approval was given to Dow in October, signalling that India has not blacklisted Dow as an investor. Dow now has largescale plans to invest in Madhya Pradesh and proposes to even employ relatives of the Bhopal gas tragedy survivors. West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has also indicated to Ministry of External Affairs (ME A) representatives that he is looking towards Dow setting up a chemical industry in his state.
So in a bid to break the deadlock, Tata wrote to Planning Commission Vice Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on November 28 that he was willing “to lead and find fu nding for remediation of site above and below ground” in Bhopal. It is understood that Tata wants to set up a corpus with the help of other Indian companies and Dow to clean up the Bhopal plant site. Given that the issue is complex and has implications for investors, the UPA government is toying with the idea of setting up of a Committee of Secretaries under Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi to examine Tata’s proposal and implementation of the site remediation plan.
An alternative is an inter -ministerial meeting with Tata or his representatives. Dow Chemicals purchased Union Carbide after all civil claims were settled as per the Supreme Court’s de- cision. However, NGOs, in a PIL filed in the district court, have claimed that Dow must be held responsible for the remediation measures at the Bhopal site. But Dow says that while it is comfortable with the case against Union Carbide proceeding in the court, it finds the Department of Chemicals suggestion that Dow fork out Rs 100 crore as an interpretation that the government was holding Dow liable.
In a letter to the Ministry of Industry on December 8, the Charge d’ Affairs of the US Embassy in Delhi urged the govern- ment to withdraw the Rs 100-crore claim on Dow. While the top leadership of the UPA government is in favour of burying the legacy, a senior Cabinet Minister told The Indian Express: “It is a sad history but should not bring about a stalemate. Dow has come to work in India, it is not shying and running away… if we do not help Dow settle this, then the com – pany will move to Thailand or Vietnam. ” Indian Express/Delhi/01/01/07 Do and Dow
Proposal for voluntary corporate clean-up of Bhopal gas site merits serious consideration Successive Indian governments have failed Bhopal’s gas victims in a variety of ways. From the first shoddy efforts following the terrible incident to nondisbursal of compensation years after the tragedy — it took a PIL and a resultant court ruling for the government to start moving on this front — official responses have made clear there were two villains in the Bhopal case: the callously negligent factory management and the consistently indifferent government.
That is why official attempts to act virtuous over Bhopal-related matters are particularly hard to swallow. More so, when after decades, some sensible proposals are being heard. As this newspaper reported on Monday, Ratan Tata has volunteered to take the lead in remediation — bureaucratese for a clean-up — of the Bhopal site and Dow Chemicals, which bought Union Carbide in 1999, has offered to be part of the process, including making substantial financial contributions.
Since the department of chemicals is a plaintiff in an MP district court case where the demand is that Dow should pay Rs 100 crore for the clean-up, the question before the government is this: should it let the issue of Dow investing in India get horribly complicated by taking time and pushing files over the chemical company’s legal liabilities, or should it sort out the issue quickly? The only victim in the case of a quick decision will be various departments’ efforts to look good. What needs to be remembered here is that the issue here is not of fixing criminal responsibility.
Were that the case, no negotiations or offers would have mattered. The government wants Dow to pay, Dow is willing to pay, a respected Indian industrial house is willing to lead the process. So who gains if the department of chemicals insists that the court case must be the only way to sort out how much money Dow puts in? Arguments about corporate 10 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster malfeasance don’t apply here. And when they did — the time when the tragedy happened — the government didn’t seem to care. Bhopal’s victims paid. They are still paying. Indian Express/Delhi/ 02/01/07 984 Bhopal survivors say Ratan Tata antinational NEW DELHI, JANUARY 3: Leaders of four organisations of survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal have condemned Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata’s offer to clear the path for DowUnion Carbide’s investments in India by leading an effort to pay for and clean up Union Carbide’s toxic waste in Bhopal. Displaying a poster of Ratan Tata with a garland of shoes around his neck they called him an anti-national element, who was causing damage to the people and environment by facilitating the expansion of US multinational Dow Chemical in this country.
They appealed to Bhopal survivors to boycott Tata’s salt as a mark of protest, and have launched a national boycott campaign. The leaders emphasised that Dow Chemical took over the environme ntal liabilities of Bhopal when it became the 100% owner of Union Carbide in 2001. They said according to the “polluter pays principle”, which is valid in the US and India, Dow/Union Carbide must pay for the clean up in Bhopal. Indian Express/ Delhi/ 04/0 1/2007
Bhopal Gas tragedy: SC asks MP govt to furnish response to panel’s report NEW DELHI, JANUARY 24: The Supreme Court today asked the Madhya Pradesh Government to furnish its response to the monitoring committee’s report on whether medical facilities were inadequate for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, as noted by the committee appointed to ensure timely and adequate medicare facilities to the victims. The response will be filed within six weeks, said the Bench of Justices CK Thakker and Lokeshwar Singh Panta, who also directed the court appointed advisory committee to file its report within six weeks.
The directions were issued on the PIL alleging gross neglect of the victims by the authorities in extending proper medicare and treatment facilities. PS Narasimha, counsel appearing for one of the NGOs complained that while the monitoring committee has been meeting regularly and performing its duties, the advisory committee constituted with eminent personalities has not been functional for the past two years. In compliance with the SC’s directions, the State Government on August 17, 2004 had constituted the two committees.
According to the terms of references, while the monitoring committee was entrusted with the task of ensuring timely, efficient and effective medicare facilities to the victims, the advisory committee was to examine the treatment practices adopted by the Government and suggest proper measures to overcome the loopholes. It was directed to submit its report to the apex court after every six months. However, the counsel informed how the advisory committee had not been meeting for the past two years and was also not submitting its report to the apex court as directed.
After the tragedy in 1984, three of the NGOs fighting for the victims had in January 1998, filed a petition in the apex court alleging that on an average 10 to 15 people were dying every month in the state on account of the after effects of the tragedy. It was pointed out that there was severe shortage of medicines and medical facilities, which was aggravating the problem. Besides, the fifth report of the monitoring committee which remarked about the “woeful” performance of the State Government in extending proper medicare to the victims, was also placed on record.
Indian Express/Delhi/ 25/01/07 Rs 3 cr to be earmarked for gas-hit cancer patients Bhopal, Feb 3: The fund amounting to Rs 70 lakh earmarked for the medical treatment of the cancer patients of Bhopal gas tragedy will be increased to more than four folds ie Rs three crore in the next financial year. Similarly, the hospitals of the gas relief department would keep on providing medical facilities on chargeable basis to the non gas affected patients on humanitarian ground. The aforesaid information was given during the meeting of the departmental advisory committee of the gas relief department.
The minister for gas tragedy relief and rehabilitation Babulal Gaur presided over the meeting. The members of the committee MLAs Bhaktapal Singh, Phoolsingh Mewada, Principal Secretary Gas Relief MM Upadhyaya, Director Gas Relief MK Varshney and several officers were present on the occasion. Moreover, it has been decided in the meeting to pursue the case strongly with the union government regarding announcement of the remaining 20 wards of Bhopal as the gas affected and distribution of the relief amount. A demand of Rs 763 crore has been placed before the union government for these wards.
Gaur informed that the high power committee constituted 11 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster for the gas affected has already consider the remaining 20 wards as the gas affected in principal. The union minister for human resources development Arjun Singh is the chairperson of the committee. It may be recalled that a proposal was passed by the state assembly and sent to the union government for its clearance. The CMO of the gas relief department Dr DP Agrawal informed that an amount of Rs. six crore 15 lakh has been spent for the free medical treatment of the gas affected cancer patients so far.
And a provision of Rs hree crore is t being made in the next financial year’s budget. Further, a proposal of Rs two crore is being sent to the union government as per the recommendations made by the Indian council of medical research and renowned scientists of the country to set up 24 research projects regarding scientific study of disastrous effect of gas on the health of the people. Of these seven projects namely respiratory system, ophthalmology, mental diseases, epidemiological study, cyrogemetic, cancer and immunology have al ready been started.
Moreover, Rs 90 lakh have been spent on the study of chemical waste and its collection so far. Out of which Rs ten lakh each have been paid to the IICT, NEERI and NGRI apart from Rs 60 lakh to MP pollution control board. Central Chronicle / Bhopal 04/02/07 Toxic legacy Ratan Tata’s offer to help find funds to remove the toxic waste in UCC’s Bhopal plant is inconsistent with the `polluter pays’ principle. V. VENKATESAN THE `polluter pays’ principle, which is a basic part of environmental law, requires that polluters bear the remedial or clean-up costs of the damage they cause o the environment and the expenditure of compensating the victims of the pollution. In the case of the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, the polluter, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), may claim that it fulfilled the second part of this principle, that is, payment of compensation to the victims through the settlement with the Gove rnment of India, approved by the Supreme Court. But the question of fixing the liability for the remediation of the toxic waste left behind by its subsidiary Union Carbide India Ltd. UCIL), which ran the abandoned pesticide plant in Bhopal, continues to be intractable. Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, according to a report carried in The Indian Express on January 1, has offered, in a letter to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Msontek Singh Ahluwalia, to take the lead in finding the funds for remediation of the Bhopal site, above and below ground. Rata Tata has apparently made this offer to enable Dow Chemicals Co. – the company that inherited in 1999 UCC’s assets and liabilities – to invest in India without getting bogged down in UCC’s liabilities with regard to the clean-up.
The Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers has urged the Madhya Pradesh High Court to direct Dow to deposit Rs. 100 crores with the government for the remediation of the site. Dow is reluctant to invest in India or consider joint ventures with Indian companies until the government absolves the company of this liability. Survivors of the disaster, therefore, consider Ratan Tata’s offer a mockery of the `polluter pays’ principle. Earlier, in his letter to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on July 10, 2006, Ratan Tata, according to a press release issued by the
Tata Group’s spokesperson on January 17, made a similar suggestion. In the letter, Tata urged that remediation of the gas tragedy site be considered because of the likelihood of contamination of the soil and groundwater in the area, which would endanger the health and lives of the people of Bhopal. He suggested that one way forward might be to establish a fund for the remediation of the site. “Should the government and the courts endorse such a line of action, an effort could be made to bring [together] likeminded corporate houses to contribute to such a fund.
These suggestions are totally independent of the issues being addressed in the courts,” he noted in his letter. In June 2005, under orders from the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a petition filed under a public interest litigation (PIL), the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) initiated the process of removing the toxic waste from the plant site (Frontline, July 15, 2005). The effort was discontinued after the High Court constituted a task force to assess the magnitude of the problem.
The task force set up a technical subcommittee (TSC) to suggest steps that could be taken to dispose of the waste that is lying above ground and that has been excavated from a number of sites within the UCIL factory grounds. The TSC includes the Chairman of the MPPCB, P. D. Meena; Senior Scientist of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), D. D. Basu; Director Grade Scientist of the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Tapan Chakrabarty; Deputy Director of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, A.
Krishna Reddy; and Head of the Environment Management Division, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), K. P. Nyati. The TSC has two co-opted members, in compliance with the High Court. They are the 12 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster renowned scientists P. M. Bhargava of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, and J. P. Gupta, Director-General, Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute. The mandate of the TSC is to give clear recommendations for the safe removal and disposal of the stored toxic waste.
The TSC has so far met twice. In its first meeting, held at the CPCB, Delhi, on July 10, 2006, Bhargava suggested that the first option should be to apply the `polluter pays’ principle, and hence Dow Chemicals Co. should undertake the disposal of the waste. Dow Chemicals Co. , he said, must take responsibility for and bear the cost of its removal from UCIL, Bhopal, and its safe disposal in a suitable manner. He stated that the entire process and the treatments discussed by the TSC should be considered the second option.
The TSC agreed to this suggestion and decided that it should be placed before the task force for consideration (according to the minutes of the TSC meeting accessed by Frontline). In its second meeting, held on August 26, 2006, the TSC unanimously recommended that the government should ask Dow Chemicals Co. to take all the waste out of the country (in such a manner that no one is submitted to any health hazards and all legitimate environmental concerns are addressed) for disposal at their expense. This, he TSC felt, would be the only fair, ethical, proper, legal and desirable way of taking care of a problem, for the following reasons: * This step would be compatible with the universally accepted principle that in such cases the responsibility for waste disposal must lie with those who generate the waste. * When Dow acquired Union Carbide, it acquired all its assets and liabilities. * Precedence exists where India has exported hazardous waste that could not be safely handled in the country. In March 2003, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ordered M/s Hindustan Lever Ltd. o export 286 tonnes of its mercury-contaminated waste to an overseas facility. * Faced with a similar problem, that of obsolete pesticides, Africa called for and constituted a multi-stakeholder partnership called the Africa Stockpiles Programme (ASP) involving African countries, international donors, nongovernmental organisations and pesticide manufacturers’ associations. The programme envisages “repackaging and export to developed countries for final destruction” of stockpiled pesticides, and all activities will be carried out in line with the strictest health and environmental standards (www. fricastockpiles. org) . * In 1995, the European Commission procured 230 tonnes of off-specification fungicide from Rwanda. * Nearly 300 tonnes of obsolete pesticides were repackaged and exported to Britain from Yemen with the assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Netherlands and Germany. If Dow does not agree to remove the waste and ship it overseas, the government should freeze the assets of Dow and all its subsidiaries and associated companies. In the event that Dow refuses to remove the waste, there may be no alternative but to go in for incineration.
Incineration may then be carried out in such a way that the people concerned and civil society are satisfied and it is ensured, with total transparency and with participation of civil society, that all conceivable hazards to health have been adequately addressed. Bhargava and Gupta will also need to access the data collected by NEERI (in the mid1990s) with regard to the chemical waste in the factory site and give detailed comments on this matter in order to determine the best way of disposing of the waste. In the PIL before the High Court, the Central government sought the court’s direction to make Dow Chemicals deposit Rs. 00 crores for environmental remediation and restoration. The High Court postponed consideration of this plea as in its view the removal of the waste rather than the fixing of responsibility should get priority because unless removed immediately the waste could cause another disaster. It is unclear how the Central government quantified the amount to be advanced by the polluter, as activists allege it is an underestimation. Apparently, however, the Central government’s plea before the High Court is a major hurdle to be crossed by Dow before it accepts invitations for investments and collaborations in India.
Dow is also evading criminal liability for the disaster before the Bhopal District Court and has secured a stay from the High Court on the notice issued to it by the District Court. In view of the TSC’s recommendation, the High Court may well introspect whether it was prudent to postpone the determination of Dow Chemicals’ liability as a polluter. The determination at the earliest of the polluter’s liability can help avoid what the TSC has described as the hazards of incineration in unregulated situations, as is the case in India. India, according to the TSC, has no prior experience in trying to use any alternatives to incineration either.
More importantly, the determination of Dow’s liability for the clean -up is imperative to restrict consideration by the government of mindless offers from Dow’s friends in India to remediate Bhopal’s waste on its behalf. It is useful to recall what the Supreme Court said in Indian Council for Enviro -Legal Action vs. Union of India (The Bichhri 13 25 Years After Bhopal Gas Disaster Case, 1996): “The `polluter pays’ principle, as interpreted by this Court, means that the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also the cost of restoring the environmental degradation.
Remedying the damaged environment is part of the process of `Sustainable Development’ and as such the polluter is liable to pay the cost to the individual who suffers as well as the cost of reversing the damaged ecology. ” The Supreme Court’s ruling in this case is binding on t e Bhopal h remediation case currently being heard by the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Frontline 09/02/07 Bhopal gas survivors go on dharna again NAMRATA BIJI AHUJA New Delhi, Feb. 3: It has been one year since 55 survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy embarked on an 800-kin-long journey on foot from Bhopal to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, demanding relief and, rehabilitation for the survivors. However, even after a year, there has been no relief for the survivors, who have once again gone on an indefinite dharna, alleging “inaction” and complete apathy on part of the Madhya Pradesh government. More than 400 survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal marched with burning torches to the chief minister’s residence on Friday as part of the campaign “Jeene ka Haq (Right to Live)”.
The marchers condemned the chief minister’s indifference towards the suffering of the people poisoned in the gas tragedy. Leaders of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangh alleged that the state government is blocking the implementation of the decisions of the Coordination Committee on Bhopal (CCB), which was set up to provide relief and rehabilitation for the victims. “The CCB was set up after Dr Singh conceded to the demands of the Bhopal padayatris after they sat on a 14-day dharna followed by a seven-day hungerstrike in February-March 2006 in the capital,” said Rashida Bi of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karma chari Sangh.
The CCB was set up with the participation of senior officials from the Central and state governments and representatives of survivors’ organisations. The survivors’ organisations, including Bhopal ki Awaaz and Bhopal Group for Information and Action, said that they have made repeated attempts to meet the chief minister since June 2006. “All efforts have been futile and several petitions on behalf of people poisoned in the tragedy have gone unanswered,” they alleged. The current BJP government has surpassed all previous governments in terms of incompetence, corruption and apathy shown towards the plight of victims,” said the survivors’ organisations. Reports of the Supreme Court committee for medical monitoring have -exposed the miserable state of healthcare of the survivors. The reports highlight the lack of standardised treatment protocol in hospitals meant for gas victims. Asian Age/ New Delhi/ 24/02/07 with defects by the Chingari Trust, an organisation working for gas victims.
Demanding monthly pension of Rs 1,000 and free medical care from the state gove