Bhopal survivors condemn government of West Bengal for colluding with Dow Chemical

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

June 05, 2007
PRESS STATEMENT
Addressing a press conference in Kolkata today, a delegation of organizations of survivors of the December 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal condemned the West Bengal state government and the CPM party for inviting American multinational Dow Chemical to the proposed chemical hub at Haldia / Nandigram. They said that as owner of Union Carbide Corporation since 2001, Dow Chemical is responsible for the poisoning of ground water, soil and causing health damages to over 25,000 people in Bhopal. Despite repeated demands from survivors’ organisations for the last six years, Dow Chemical refuses to clean up the over 5,000 tons of chemical waste that lie in and around the abandoned Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal.
Yesterday 21 members of the Bhopal survivor organisations along with four members of Youth for Social change, Chennai and two members of PUCL, Tamilnadu visited two areas of Nandigram. The group met with victims of firing, beating and rape by West Bengal police and CPM cadres in Gokulnagar where four people were killed on March 14th and looting and burning down of 62 houses by CPM cadres on May 29th in Satangabadi. Along with the West Bengal state government and CPM party the organisations blamed Dow Chemical for the violence in Nandigram and said that it is a premonition of the violence that would be let loose by Dow Chemical if it starts producing hazardous chemicals in this area.
The Bhopal survivors’ organisations stated that as per the “polluter pays” principle, Dow Chemical is legally liable to pay for clean up and pay compensation for health injuries including unusually high rates of congenital malformations due to contaminated ground water. They said that in Madhya Pradesh High Court, the Indian government has sought Rs. 100 crores from Dow Chemical as an advance for cleaning up hazardous waste from in and around the Bhopal factory. However, through its counsel, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Dow Chemical has told the High Court that because it is a corporation registered in USA it will not be bound by any decision of the MP High Court.
Union Carbide Corporation which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical is absconding from charges of manslaughter, grievous assault and other serious offences related to the world’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal District Court.
The Bhopal survivors organisations said that it is utterly shameful that the West Bengal government is inviting Dow Chemical that is evading its Bhopal related liabilities. The organisations shared copies of a letter they had sent to the CPM Polit Bureau in December 2005 calling upon the leadership of the party to deny entry of Dow Chemical in to West Bengal. They said that they have yet to receive a response to their letter and the West Bengal government is going ahead with its plans to invite Dow Chemical to Nandigram / Haldia. The organisations stated that CPM’s open support to Dow Chemical is particularly reprehensible because the CPM and its affiliates have been part of the campaign against Dow Chemical on the issues of the Bhopal disaster.
The organisations presented copies of documents obtained from the Prime Minister’s office that clearly show that Dow Chemical has promised to invest billion of dollars in India provided the Indian government does not hold Dow liable for environmental and health damages in Bhopal.
The survivors’ organisations informed that their supporters in USA will be protesting against the participation of West Bengal Industries Minister, Mr Nirupam Sen at the meeting of US-India Business Council in Washington D.C. on 27th June where Mr Sen is expected to strike a deal with Dow Chemical Company regarding investment in Haldia / Nandigram.
The organisations expressed satisfaction that at the recently held National Convention on Nandigram & SEZs in Kolkata, organisations from all over the country have resolved to stop Dow Chemical’s investment at Nandigram / Haldia or any where else in the country.
Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
+99 (0)9302432298
Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
+99 (0)9329026319
Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
+99 (0)9626167369
Contact : House No. 60, Near Cold Storage, Union Carbide Road, Bhopal 462 001
Please keep visiting www.bhopal.net for updates on the continuing disaster in Bhopal. To take action against those responsible please visit www.studentsforbhopal.org
(THE PRESS RELEASE BLOG IS OUT OF ORDER. UNTIL IT IS FIXED, PRESS RELEASES WILL BE PUBLISHED HERE.)

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