Bhopal: A global environment city?

Daily News Analysis – Abhilash Khandekar
Thursday, April 06, 2006 00:33 IST
BHOPAL: Bhopal as global environment city? Well, that’s what the MP government is planning to rid the capital of the ‘gas disaster city’ tag. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh’s unique idea of projecting Bhopal as a symbol of 21st century environmental consciousness has hit it off at the PMO where last week a meeting took place in which officials of the planning commission, environment ministry and eminent architect Charles Correa and others participated.
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“Environment City”? Thousands of tons of lethal chemical lie in unprotected warehouses at the Union Carbide factory. 20,000 people are drinking water poisoned by toxins leaking from the site. The quality of the MP government’s token attempt to clean-up can be judged from the picture above. The visions of politicians generally depend on being blind to reality.
Following discussions, special grants are being considered from the Planning Commission on PMO’s recommendation for Bhopal, sources said on Wednesday.
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Shivraj Singh: the visionary
Subsequent to Shivraj Singh’s letter to Dr Manmohan Singh in January last week, PM’s principal secretary T A K Nair convened a meeting to discuss the concept. The MP CM in his letter had said that “after the world’s worst industrial and environmental disaster, it is time to move on and look ahead, turning the negatives of the past into a positive future’’.
Speaking to DNA, State Chief Secretary Rakesh Sahani who attended the Delhi meeting at the PMO said that the concept note prepared by the Environmental Planning and Coordination Organisation (EPCO) – MP’s nodal agency for environmental issues – had been appreciated by the PMO. “The idea is to make Bhopal a global, environmentally sustainable city considering its unique natural features like expansive lakes, adequate green cover, hills and heritage’’, Sahani said.
He said that the Government was seriously pushing the case for Bhopal which is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. “In terms of sustaining its growth, if steps are not taken in time, things would deteriorate’’ Sahani said.
Bhopal, where over 20,000 people died in the wake of MiC leak in December 1984, continues to be known for this world industrial disaster, well after 20 years. Two months ago, an international summit of environmentalists took place here in which the experts wondered during their deliberations why such a beautiful city should continue to be haunted by its past image.
Strange environmentalists, who presumably never investigated the Union Carbide factory site or gave consideration to the fact that thousands are daily being poisoned by it. Bhopal will always be haunted by the ghosts of 1984 until justice has been done. Clean up the factory, provide clean water, compensate people for their suffering, loss of livelihood, provide adequate and appropriate medical care for the victims, including future victims of the genotoxic gases, bring the corporations and officials responsible to justice and never, never forget the terrible lesson that has been taught, but evidently not yet learned, in this unique old city.

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