1000 RTI Campaign to Break PM’s Silence on Pending Bhopal Issues

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

NEW DELHI, 26 April, 2008 – At least a 1000 people, mostly Delhi residents, will send RTI applications to the Prime Minister’s Office over the next week seeking answers to long-standing questions regarding the Bhopal disaster. Twenty three years after the disaster, even the most basic information required to address the rehabilitation needs of survivors is not available. What poisons leaked that day? What has the Government done to rehabilitate the victims? Why are gas survivors being asked to pay for health care? Why are children still being born deformed? Why is the Government helping Union Carbide and Dow Chemical?
The mass RTI campaign will also ask the Prime Minister for information regarding the status of the Bhopalis’ request for an appointment with the Prime Minister. About 50 Bhopalis, who marched 800 km from Bhopal to reach Delhi on 28 March, had alerted the PMO that they wanted to meet him Prime Minister as early as 20 February. Since then, more than 1700 people have sent faxes to the PMO in support of the Bhopal padayatris.
“It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister could not find any time in the last two months to spend on people who have been neglected by the government for two decades. As a citizen, I want to find out why. I want to know what the PM has done to reach clean water in Bhopal, to clean up toxic wastes and hold the guilty companies responsible since he last promised the Bhopalis two years ago that he would do all this,” said RTI activist Arvind Khejriwal addressing a press conference at the end of the first day of the RTI campaign. Leader of the Revolutionary Socialist Party Abani Roy also filed an RTI application today.
RTI has come in handy for the Bhopalis. Till date, they have filed more than 100 applications with agencies in the State and Centre. Information unearthed through RTI revealed, in one case, that Dow Chemical had been given license to operate its silicone factory on the basis of false information. In another case, RTI activists in Pune discovered that the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board had cleared Dow’s proposal for an R&D plant on the basis of a mere 3-page project proposal.
However, two separate applications filed recently with the PMO invoking the “Life or Liberty” clause have failed to elicit any response. The applications sought information relating to the survivors’ appointment with the PM, and for rights to inspect all files concerning the Bhopal disaster and the PMO’s negotiations with Dow Chemical. Applications under Life and Liberty have to be responded to within two days. The applicants have lodged a formal complaint against the PMO with the Central Information Commission. “The blatant disregard shown by the Prime Minister’s Office to citizens’ right to information is shameful, and speaks volumes about the office’s attitude to transparency and accountability” said Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
For more information, contact:
Nityanand Jayaraman: 9717516003
Rachna Dhingra: 9717516004

House No. S3, Tulsi Towers, Patel Nagar, Near Sangam Talkies, Bhopal 462001

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