Bhopal survivors send PM an urgent letter

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karamchari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

May 31, 2008
Press Statement
Organizations representing survivors and victims of water contamination in Bhopal today sent a letter to the Prime Minister clarifying that their demands for legal action against Dow Chemical and Union Carbide only expect the Government to help law take its course. “The remaining demands – relating to extradition of Warren Anderson and Union Carbide, deregistering the pesticides Dursban, Nurelle and Pride, and revoking the license granted to Reliance to import Union Carbide’s Unipol technology – are all legally mandated. By asking you to meet them, we’re merely demanding that the Government assist the law in taking its course,” the letter said.
In 1992, the Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate ordered the Central Government to take steps, including initiating extradition proceedings, to enforce the appearance of Warren Anderson as well as Union Carbide’s representative in court. The Government of India has failed to make any concerted attempt to bring Union Carbide’s authorized representative or Anderson to India.
In 2006, in an effort to send an “encouraging” signal to Dow Chemical and US investors, the Ministry of Industries and Commerce approved the purchase of Union Carbide’s Unipol technology by Reliance Industries. The technology, because of its ownership, is confiscable under the 1992 order of the Magistrate directing attachment of Union Carbide’s assets in India. The Ministry of Industries and Commerce has permitted Reliance to purchase the property of an absconder overriding objections by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.
On both counts, the Government cannot have any valid reason for disobeying the magistrate’s orders.
The letter thanks the Prime Minister for personally intervening in support of a special Commission. However, the organizations said even this announcement was devoid of crucial details such as budget and lifetime of the Commission. Survivors’ organizations said the Commission must extend rehabilitation to water-affected persons, and be assured of a corpus of Rs. 2000 crores to enable its functioning over a minimum period of 30 years.
The survivors’ organizations have asked the Prime Minister to ensure that the Commission is empowered through an Act of the Parliament. They have suggested that the draft bill be finalized in consultation with survivor organizations and tabled in the Parliament in the monsoon session.
Bhopal groups have endorsed the nomination of Dr. P.M. Bhargava, founder and former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, as chairperson of the Commission.
“We are hopeful that all our demands will be met after the Government’s June 3 high-level meeting. But we are prepared to remain here as long as it takes to ensure that India’s interests are not sacrificed to placate Dow Chemical and the corporate lobby,” the organizations said.
The letter to the Prime Minister was signed by Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

*Contact:*
Camp: Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, Rachna Dhingra: 97175 16003
——————————————————————–
Letter to Prime Minister
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karamchari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
*The Honourable Prime Minister,*
Prime Minister’s Office
South Block
New Delhi
May 31, 2008
*Sub: Your response to the demands of the Bhopal-New Delhi Padyatra 2008.*
Dear Sir,
On behalf of the survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal and those poisoned by contaminated ground water, we thank you for your positive response in meeting some of our demands for rehabilitation and justice.
We are happy to know that the government headed by you: agrees “in principle” to set up a Commission on Bhopal, will ensure supply of safe water to contaminated communities before the end of the year, has directed Indian Council of Medical Research to resume medical research in Bhopal and will pursue the application in the MP High Court seeking Rs. 100 Crores from Dow Chemical as advance for clean up of toxic waste and contaminated ground water.
The remaining demands – relating to extradition of Warren Anderson and Union Carbide, deregistering the pesticides Dursban, Nurelle and Pride, and revoking the license granted to Reliance to import Union Carbide’s Unipol technology – are all legally mandated. By asking you to meet them, we’re merely demanding that the Government assist the law in taking its course.
*Commission on Bhopal*
We are thankful for your government’s commitment to “speedily work out the modalities for setting up of the Commission” and would like to place before you our opinions and suggestions for your consideration and approval.
As we have mentioned in our earlier communication, for this Commission to carry out its tasks of rehabilitation, it needs to have certain powers such as summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons, requiring the discovery and inspection of documents and requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office.
We strongly believe that without such powers the Commission will meet the same sad end that other committees referred to in your response have met with. These powers can only be conferred upon the Commission by legislation in the Parliament. Towards this end, we have submitted a draft copy of the proposed Bill. This draft has been endorsed by Members of Parliament from several different parties.
With this in view, we suggest the following modalities and timeline for setting up the Commission on Bhopal.
1. Finalization of the draft of the proposed Commission on Bhopal bill by the Central Government in consultation with representatives of survivors’ organizations by end of June 2008.
2. Introduction of the Bill in the Parliament in the monsoon session by mid July 2008.
3. Constituting the Commission by September 2008.
4. Commission starts functioning by November 2008.
We propose that the Commission will have seven members with Dr. P M Bhargava, founder and former Director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology as the Chairman. Our proposals regarding the names of other six members who will be chosen from among medical and legal professionals, engineers, sociologists and social workers and representatives of survivors’ organizations will be placed before you shortly.
It is to be noted that the demand for a Commission is being made by gas victims and victims of water pollution, and will therefore be required to cover both categories of Union Carbide’s victims.
As pointed by us the Commission needs to have secured funds to be able to function for the next thirty years and had suggested the setting up of a Corpus Fund of Rs. 2000 crores towards this end. Given that the rehabilitation of the next generation of Bhopal victims would be one of the principal tasks of the Commission, secured long term funding is a must. However, since we found no mention of either the budget or the anticipated life of the Commission, we are anxious to see a clarificatory statement from you on both counts along the lines suggested above.
*Supply of safe water*
With regard to the critically important issue of supplying safe water to the residents of the communities with contaminated ground water, we are sorry to say that your commitment of monitoring of progress of the work by the central government fails to convince us that the project would be completed by end of 2008. In our opinion with only 30% of the work completed till date, it would require proactive steps by the central government in order to realize this goal.
The other important consideration in this issue is that of payment of “user fees”. Because it is slotted under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, project benefits will be extended only to those capable of paying the user fees. An overwhelming majority of the affected community lives at or below poverty line. Further, the self-sufficiency of these communities with regard to water was robbed by the actions of Union Carbide assisted by a negligent state and central government. Under these circumstances, it is only the government and Union Carbide that should be required to pay to ensure sustained supply of water to the affected communities into perpetuity. We would much appreciate your considered opinion on this aspect.
*Medical Research by ICMR*
We much appreciate your promised initiative with regard to resumption of research by the Indian Council of Medical Research. We wish to point out that medical research in Bhopal will have to be directed towards the effects of contaminated ground water as well as toxic gas exposure. We will shortly be sending the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare a list of specific research studies that are to be carried out to assess the health care needs of the population poisoned by Union Carbide.
Moving on to the demands on which we are yet to receive your response, we have been assured by Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, who was kind enough to come to our *dharna* site and read out your statement, that your office is actively working out the central government’s response to them. With regard to our demands of extradition of absconding Union Carbide’s representative and former Chairman Warren Anderson, cancellation of registration of Dursban and two other pesticides of Dow Chemical and revoking the permission given to Reliance Industries for purchase of Union Carbide’s UNIPOL technology we wish to present the following for your consideration.
Our demand for immediate steps by the government for extradition of Warren Anderson and the authorized representative of Union Carbide is but for the speedy implementation of a judicial order pending for last 16 years. Anderson and Carbide are absconding from charges of causing death of thousands of persons and grievously assaulting hundreds of thousands of people. The government is duty bound to make all efforts to present the absconding accused in an Indian Court and all we are demanding is that the government carry out its duty to the country.
Similarly our demand for the de-registering the illegally registered pesticides — Dursban, Nurelle and Pride — manufactured by Dow Chemical ought to have been fulfilled suo motu by the government. Allowing these registrations to survive endangers Indian public and environment, enriches the offender corporation — Dow Chemical and sets a precedent of tolerance towards bribe-givers and takers. Meeting this demand will only underscore the seriousness and sincerity of your recent statements on the ills of corruption and the urgent steps needed to tackle it.
With regard to our third demand for revoking the permission given to Reliance Industries for purchase of Union Carbide’s UNIPOL technology, all we are doing is demanding that the government follows the 1992 directions of the Bhopal District Court regarding confiscation of Union Carbide’s properties in India. We have learnt that the Ministry of Industries and Commerce has permitted Reliance to purchase the property of an absconder overriding objections by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers. In doing so, the Ministry of Industries has permitted the sale of absconder Union Carbide’s confiscable technology in a context where the government has failed to take any action to apprehend the absconder in the last 16 years. This permission goes against the government’s role as prosecution in the criminal case at the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal, where Union Carbide Corporation stands accused of “culpable homicide not amounting to murder.” We look forward to your government’s position with regard to this serious matter.
As communicated to Mr. Chavan we will continue with our protest *dharna *till we receive your government’s response to the specific demands for appropriate legal action against the two criminal corporations: Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.
Thanking you again and awaiting an early response from you.
Yours sincerely,
Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

*Contact:*
Rachna Dhingra: 9717516003, 09826167369
S-3, Tulsi Towers, Patel Nagar, Behind Sangam Cinema, Bhopal, MP-462001

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