Bhopal Children launch group to fight Dow

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

December 1, 2008
Bhopal: at a press conference today, leaders of three organizations of the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster announced the formation of a new organization “Children Against Dow-Carbide” on the eve of the 24th anniversary of the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster. They said that children played a very significant role in the demonstrations at the Prime Minister’s house and office in New Delhi during the 2008 dharna in New Delhi.
The organisations said that 2008 has been a year of significant victories for them both over the American Corporations -Dow Chemical and Union Carbide and the Indian government. They said that they expect more wins in 2009, the 25th year of the disaster when there will be increased national and international attention to the ongoing disaster in Bhopal. “As we understand all prior formalities for the setting up of the Empowered Commission on Bhopal by the central government are over and we hope to have the Commission set up by February 2008,” survivor groups said. The groups said they will launch a fresh agitation if the Commission is not set up by February 20, the anniversary of the launch of the 2006 and 2008 Bhopal to New Delhi Padayatras. The organisations also said the state government is committed to supplying clean water from Kolar dam by March 2009 and the work on the project is progressing well.

The organizations said that because of their campaign and that of their supporters Dow Chemical, current owner of Union Carbide has been forced to reconsider its expansion plans in India. Construction of Dow’s chemical experimentation facility in Pune, Maharashtra, has been brought to a complete halt by local villagers and their supporters. In October, the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, announced that Dow Europe had withdrawn its proposal for a joint venture with Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd.
Conceding the demands of agitating Bhopalis earlier this year, the Government of India announced that it will pursue Dow for clean-up of toxic wastes in the Madhya Pradesh High Court. For the second year in a row, Dow was kept out of campus recruitment at IITs across the nation, and at least three IITs rejected Dow’s offer for sponsorship for various events. In New York, an appeal filed by the Bhopalis on a case to make Union Carbide clean up and compensate contamination-affected persons was upheld by the Appeals court in November.
The three organizations: Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that children will bring new energy and hope of victory in this 25th year of their struggle to hold Dow-Union Carbide and the Government of India accountable. More than 10,000 schools, covering 1 million students in Andhra Pradesh, have pledged their support by offering to observe a 2-minute silence on December 3, and organising awareness programs on “corporate irresponsibility and citizen’s power to demand accountability.” Citizens groups in more than 67 locations in 15 states nationwide have registered to take action on December 3 to highlight the plight of Bhopal survivors more than two decades after the disaster Supporters in more than 10 countries will also take action in support of the struggle for justice in Bhopal.
The 24th anniversary will be marked by a torchlight procession on the night of 2 December, and a massive rally from Bharat Talkies to the infamous Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on 3 December. Survivors’ organisations will hold a public event to felicitate people who contributed significantly to the victory of the 2008 Bhopal to New Delhi Padyatra. Replicas of the iconic mother-and-child statue commemorating the disaster, and citations will be handed over to more than 100 people, including children who participated in the Padyatra.
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Syed M. Irfan. Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha 9329026319
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra. Bhopal Group for Information and Action. 9826167369

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