Bhopal Day program highlights pollution’s effects on kids

PRESS STATEMENT
2 December, 2007. CHENNAI — Marking the 23rd Anniversary of the anniversary of the 1984 Union Carbide Bhopal Gas disaster, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal held a public meeting with a difference focusing on children and pollution. Without any long speeches, the main medium of communication was through songs, villu paattu, street play and satire. Children of KRMM staged a play re-enacting the Bhopal disaster. Members of a cultural troupe from Kanchi Makkal Mandram launched the program with an impressive dance with the Parai, a percussion instrument identified now with the dalit assertion for rights. Youth for Social Change and theatre artiste Pritham Chakravarty performed a satirical awards ceremony in the name of Ettappan, an infamous traitor who betrayed Veerapadiya Kattabomman to British forces in 18th century. The awards ceremony honoured modern day sell-outs who are paving the way for the re-entry of Dow Chemical and Union Carbide into India. The key winners included P. Chidambaram, Manmohan Singh, Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani. Two undecided awards were also presented, one each of the Indian Institute of Technology and CitiCenter. Despite loud opposition by many IIT students to bar Dow from hiring on campus, IIT has refused to take a stance on the matter. CitiCenter continues to provide office space to Dow Chemical in Chennai.
Residents registered their shock and protest at the Tamilnadu Government’s decision to allow Union Carbide’s new owner Dow Chemical to set up business in Guindy. Currently Dow has an office in the 6th floor of Citicenter in Mylapore. “Dow has the dubious distinction of profiting from chemicals that rob children of their childhood,” said Sreedevi, principal of a Chennai school. In February 2007, Dow was fined $300,000 by a US agency for having bribed Indian officials to register three pesticides, including Dursban which was banned in the US due to its harmful effects on children’s mental development.
A growing body of evidence points to the influence of synthetic chemicals in everything from pregnancy outcomes, to the mental, reproductive and physical health of children.
The 1984 Bhopal disaster killed more than 8000 people. December 3 is also World Disability Day — an occasion to take stock of our attitudes towards disabled people, to acknowledge their achievements, and most importantly to redesign our world to ensure that it is not discriminatory towards them. The links between Bhopal and disability are clear. The disaster left more than 70,000 people disabled. Even today, children in Bhopal are being born with serious congenital deformities and disabilities. Some are born to gas affected parents. Others are born to non-exposed parents who live near the Union Carbide factory and consume groundwater containing poisons that have leached out of the toxic wastes abandoned by Carbide. Increasingly, world over, mental and physical disabilities are being linked to fetal or childhood exposure to synthetic chemicals.
Today, even rich kids buy and use synthetic chemicals – in shampoos, fairness creams, household insecticides like mosquito sprays and termite treatment, and junk food. Children living near traffic junctions, kids working the garbage dumps – all have a shared environmental fate. To make our worlds safe for our children, we need to figure out how to make things differently, how not to make waste, and how to make do with what we have.
For more information, contact: Shweta Narayan: 9444024315 www.bhopal.net.
Email: nopvcever@gmail.com. International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
42A, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090

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