Bhopal gassed again

Press Statement from
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Bhopal ki Aawaaz

In a press conference today, four organizations active on the issues of the Union Carbide December ’84 disaster in Bhopal opposed the surreptitious and unsafe manner in which the safe-keeping of chemical waste within the Union Carbide factory is being carried out. While the organizations were in favour of implementation of the High Court’s directions regarding protecting the chemical waste from the ensuing rains they alleged that up to 10,000 residents of four neighbouring communities were exposed to toxic dust of Hexachlorocyclohexane [HCH] and other chemicals as a result of the work carried out yesterday.
The organizations also presented a copy of an open letter sent to the Chairman, MP Pollution Control Board Dr. P S Dubey in which they have questioned the competence of the Hyderabad based firm M/s Ramky Pharma City [India] Ltd. The letter supported by documents also raises questions regarding Dr. Dubey’s suspicious connections with private companies such as M/s Lupin Laboratories and his suitability as the regulating authority for the work within the Carbide factory. A copy of this letter along with documents has been submitted to the Superintendents of Police, Economic Offences Wing and Central Bureau of Investigation for necessary action.
A letter faxed to the Chairman, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes by the Chairman of the Local Area Environmental Committee, Mr. Satish Tewari was also presented at the press conference. In the letter, Mr Tewari testified to the toxic exposure of the neighbouring residents and called for the immediate intervention of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee to ensure that the work carried out under the charge of the Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief & Rehabilitation is carried out in a transparent manner, and that those residing in the neighbourhood of the factory are not exposed to health risks.
The organizations pointed out that the firm selected for this work by Mr. Dubey – M/s Ramky Ltd – has only five years experience of handling hazardous wastes and is known to have imposed risks on public health during a number of previous waste management projects in the country. According to them, the Managing Director of the firm, Dr KSN Rao has shown that he has no idea of the antidotes that would be required in the event of toxic exposure of workers involved in the work inside the Union Carbide factory, much less of those breathing the dust nearby.
The organizations have resolved to continue with their peaceful agitation in front of the Union Carbide factory against the unsafe work carried out within the factory in a surreptitious manner.
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
+91 9303132298
Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
+91 9329026319
Shahid Noor
Bhopal ki Aawaaz
+91 9303122784
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Contact: House No. 12, Gali No. 2, Near Naseer Masjid, Bag Umrao Dulha, Bhopal 462 010
Read our open letters to the Chairman, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board and Chairman, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee.


LETTER TO CHAIRMAN, MADHYA PRADESH POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD
URGENT OPEN LETTER
To,
Dr. P S Dubey
Chairman, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board
Paryawaran Parisar
E-5, Arera Colony,
Bhopal 462 016
June 17, 2005
Sub : Questions requiring your urgent response
Dear Dr. Dubey,
As we have communicated to you orally, we four organizations active on the lingering issues of the December ’84 Union Carbide disaster are appalled at the surreptitous manner in which the work of safe-keeping of chemical waste inside the Union Carbide factory premises was carried out yesterday, under your supervision. We are equally appalled at your deliberate neglect regarding the spread of airborne hazardous dust from the Union Carbide factory during this work, affecting at least four neighbourhood communities with an estimated total population of 10, 000 residents. This exposure, you must know, is a direct result of the unsafe manner in which this work is being carried out by M/s Ramky Pharma City [India] Ltd, Hyderabad a company you have selected on considerations that remain secret.
We are attaching a letter sent by the Chairman, Local Area Environment Committee to the Chairman, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Waste Management [Annexure I] that, we think, raises serious questions regarding your competence and integrity as a Regulatory Authority for the above mentioned work.
Question 1. If the work of safe-keeping of chemicals is being carried out following standard protocols why are you denying access to observers?
Question 2. How do you justify your inaction regarding the exposure of about 10, 000 people to such dangerous chemical as Hexachloro cyclohexane due to the work carried out by M/s Ramky Pharma City [India] Ltd, Hyderabad?
Meanwhile, we have received information regarding some of your other involvements and would like to present you with a number of questions that are not directly connected to this issue but are relevant in that they underline your unsuitability not only as the Regulatory Authority for the work inside the Union Carbide factory, but also as the Chairman of the Pollution Control Board. As you will notice we have also annexed a number of interesting documents that form the background to our questions.
A document submitted by the Vikram University, Ujjain, to the University Grants Commission [Annexure II] shows that for many years you have been working for Grasim Industries, Vikram Cement, Aditya Cement and other private companies in projects costing lakhs of rupees. The document also shows that you were still working for Vikram Cement, Aditya Cement, Grasim Industry and other companies as late as 2002, when you were appointed as Chairman of the MP Pollution Control Board. We see a direct conflict of interest between your business interests and your role as Regulatory Authority here, and to the best of our knowledge such professional involvement of the Chairman Pollution Control Board with private business is expressly prohibited by specific Parliamentary Acts of our country. It is also a matter of interest that Vikram Cement, Grasim Industries and other companies you have been associated were chosen by you for the Environmental Awards in 2004.
Question 3. How do you justify your professional involvement with private companies as Chairman of the State Pollution Control Board?
Question 4. Which are the private companies that you continue to be involved with either as a paid consulatant or honorary advisor?
Question 5. Is it only incidental that companies that you have been associated with happen to be the ones that are reciepients of Environmental Awards?
A letter sent on your behalf on June 30, 2004 to M/s Lupin Laboratories, Mandideep [Annexure III] directs the company to close its factory for improper management of hazardous wastes. The letter further prohibits the restarting of the factory till the company makes arrangements for proper management of hazardous waste and obtains authorization under the Hazardous waste [Management & Handling] Rules 1989. Another letter sent to the same company [Annexure IV] on July 13, 2004 directs the company to restart production. As per our information M/s Lupin Laboratories has created no facility for disposal of hazardous wastes that follows established standards. Further, it has come to our notice that you have had similar correspondence with other companies with factories in Mandideep such as Proctor & Gamble and Eicher Tractors. As per our information both these companies continue to follow extremely unsafe practices for disposal of hazardous waste produced in their factories. Lastly, the firm M/s Lupin Laboratories has been in this business barely five years, and as such has inadequate experience in toxic wast remediation.
Question 6. How is it possible for a company to make arrangements for proper disposal of hazardous wastes in just 13 days when the standard timetable for preparing such facilities is usually several months?
Question 7. What was the basis for your allowing M/s Lupin Laboraties to restart production?
On page no. 52 of the Administrative Submission of the Department of Housing and Environment for the year 2004-2005 [Annexure V] it is mentioned that the MP Pollution Control Board set up 24 static aerators at Ramghat on the river Shipra during Simhasth 2004. We know it for a fact that the actual number of aerators was fewer than 10. Of additional concern is the allegation that you awarded the contract for this work to M/s Environmental Engineering Services, Indore for Rs. 17 lakhs by including higher bids from two fictitous companies.
Question 8. What were the companies (and addresses of their registered offices) that bid for this job and what was the basis for selection of M/s Environmental Engineering Services, Indore?
Documents available with us, in addition to those annexed herein, suggest that the selection of M/s Ramky Pharma City [India] Ltd, Hyderabad, for the work of safe-keeping of chemical waste within Union Carbide factory premises was done, by you, in an irregular manner and based on considerations other than their professional competence. We would like you to know that our suspicion does not stem solely from just your past conduct in relation to selection of project executing agencies, but has been primarily caused by the shoddy history of the company you have selected. We are aware that in their Hyderabad and Taloja projects, M/s Ramky did not go through the public hearings mandated by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, and that in both Melakottaiyur and Gummidipoondi in Tamilnadu the hazardous waste landfills built by this company have been located in areas with high water tables and are extremely unsafe.
Question 9. What were the companies that tendered their bids for the work of safe-keeping of hazardous chemical wastes within the Union Carbide factory and what were the terms and conditions for the tenders ?
Question 10. What was the basis of selection of M/s Ramky Pharma City [India] Ltd, Hyderabad for the aforementioned work and what are the conditions under which the said company has been offered this work?
Finally we are aware that your tenure as Chairman, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board began on January 8, 2002. Accordingly, your tenure has, or should have, ended on January 9, 2005.
Question 11. What are the conditions of your current employment as Chairman, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board and what decisions, if any, have been taken regarding extension of your tenure, if at all?
We look forward to your answers to the questions raised by us and hope you will be able to send us your responses at the earliest.
Thanking you.
Yours sincerely,
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
9303132298
Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
9329026319
Shahid Noor
Bhopal ki Aawaaz
930076038
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Contact:
House No. 12, Gali No. 2, Near Naseer Masjid, Bag Umrao Dulha, Bhopal 462 010
LETTERS TO CHAIRMAN, SUPREME COURT MONITORING COMMITTEE
MOST URGENT
To,
Dr. G. Thyagarajan, Ph.D., FRSC, FNAE,
Chairman, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee
On Hazardous Waste Management
(Ministry of Environment & Forests)
547, Paryavaran Bhavan,
C.G.O. Complex, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi 110 003. June 16, 2005
Sub : Imposition of risk on the health of residents of neighbourhood communities due to unsafe work practices of Ramky Pharma City [India] Ltd. inside the Union Carbide factory premises and lack of transparency in this work being carried out by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh.
Sir,
As Chairman of the Local area Environmental Committee working to assist the Supreme Court Monitoring CommitteeOn Hazardous Waste Management I wish to bring to your notice the extremely unsafe manner in which the work of safekeeping of chemical wastes is being carried out by Hyderabad based Ramky Pharma City [India] Ltd starting from today. At 1 PM today I have personally visited four communities namely, Arif Nagar, New Arif Nagar, Atal-Ayub Nagar and Jai Prakash Nagar with an estimated total population of 10, 000 and confirmed that the residents of these communities are being exposed to airborne pollutants [possibly benzene Hexachloride] emnating from the Union Carbide factory premises as a result of the work being carried out by the said firm.
I would also like to bring to your notice that despite repeated requests I have been kept away from the work that is being carried out under the supervision of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh. I reached the factory gates at about 10 AM and have been in constant communication with the Director, Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department. I was directed to meet the Collector for permission to visit the factory premises by the said officer and despite my best efforts this permission remains denied to me at 2 PM.
I strongly urge you to intervene in this matter, stop the unsafe work being currently carried out and ensure that the residents of these communities who suffer from hypersensitivity to chemicals due to their previous exposure to Methyl Isocyanate and other gases during the December ’84 Union carbide disaster are not exposed to hazardous pollutants. I would also like to request you to issue directions so that the work is carried out in a transparent manner and the neighbourhood public can be free from fear and apprehension.
I have apprised Dr Claude Alvares regarding this matter on the phone.
Thanking you.
Yours sincerely,
Satish Tewari
Tel : 0755 2730976, Mob : 94250 23953
==========================================================
MOST URGENT
To,
Dr. G. Thyagarajan, Ph.D., FRSC, FNAE,
Chairman, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee
On Hazardous Waste Management
(Ministry of Environment & Forests)
547, Paryavaran Bhavan,
C.G.O. Complex, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi 110 003. June 17, 2005
Sub : Continued exposure of thousands of residents of neighbourhood communities to hazardous chemicals due to unsafe work practices of Ramky Pharma City [India] Ltd. inside the Union Carbide factory premises.
Sir,
Further to my letter to you yesterday I much regret to report that unacceptable leakage of airbourne toxins into the communities adjacent to the Union Carbide factory as a result of unsafe and unprofessional work by M/s Ramky Pharma City [India] Ltd has continued today.
I visited the communities of Sundar Nagar, Annu Nagar, Blue Moon Colony and Atal-Ayub Nagar between 1 and 2 PM and found strong smell of Hexachlorocyclohexane in all these communities situated north of the Union Carbide factory. I found the stench to be much stronger than yesterday and am seriously concerned about the effects of such exposure on thousands of people, including children, who reside in these communities.
I must say that I am extremely dismayed to find that you have taken no action with regard to my letter of yesterday either in ensuring the safety of the resident population or to issue directions so that the work inside the factory is carried out in a transparent manner.
I am sending this letter to you as part of my responsibilty as Chairman of Local Area Environmental Committee and because of my concerns for the safety of the people who are being victimized yet again.
I look forward to an early response from you.
Thanking you.
Yours sincerely,
Satish Tewari
Tel : 0755 2730976, Mob : 94250 23953

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