Bhopal survivors sharp response to Tata's press statement: shopkeepers who have thrown out Tata products demand that Tata must reimburse them

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

January 18, 2007
Press Statement
Survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal along with people exposed to ground water contaminated by Carbide’s chemical wastes today continued with their rally calling for boycott of salt and tea marketed by the Tata company. The boycott has been called by four survivors organisations in response to Chairman Tata group Ratan Tata’s reported moves to help Union Carbide’s current owner Dow Chemical to escape liability for the toxic contamination and consequent health damages caused by the recklessly abandoned factory in Bhopal. Mr Ratan Tata is reported to have written to the Indian government proposing the clean up of chemical wastes by a trust to be set up by him.
In response to the survivors’ rally small shopkeepers along the way took packets of Tata tea and Tata salt from their shops and put it in to a large sack painted like the most sold five rupee sachets of Tata tea. A clay dog with its hind leg lifted was shown urinating on to the sack causing much laughter among the people on the way. The shopkeepers signed a letter addressed to Ratan Tata saying that he either takes back his proposal to the government or takes back his company’s products from their shop. They demanded that Tata must pay them back for the packets they were returning. The organisers of the rally plan to take the returned Tata goods to a representative of the company.
Meanwhile reacting sharply to the press statement issued by the Tata group yesterday, the leaders of the survivors organizations said that the statement illustrates both Ratan Tata’s ignorance of the situation in Bhopal and his attempts to protect American multinational Dow from legal liabilities. Tata group has expressed concern about the “likelihood of contamination of the soil and ground water in the area” whereas no less than 10 government and non–government scientific studies starting from 1990 have confirmed the presence of highly toxic and cancer and birth defect causing chemicals in the ground water up to a radius of more than 3 kilometers from the Union Carbide factory.
According to the survivors organisations, Tata’s indifference towards the victims of ground water contamination is evident from the statement which says that “health issues may emerge” as a consequence of “possible contamination” of ground water. The organizations pointed out that health impact of the contamination have been documented from 2001 when breast milk of mothers in these communities were found to contain Trichlorobenzene (TCB), Hexachloro cyclohexane (HCH), Dichloromethane, Chloroform and heavy metals such as mercury and nickel. More than 100 children with cerebral palsy, missing digits, cleft lip, missing palate and other birth defects have been recently identified among the contamination exposed population by the Chingari Trust a local NGO. Investigations carried out by Sambhavna Trust another local NGO have shown alarming rise of anaemia, delayed menarche and symptoms related to liver and kidney damage. The Trust has been providing free medical care to the survivors of the disaster and people affected by contamination for last 10 years.
According to the survivors organisations Mr Tata should have at least consulted the report of the MP Government’s medical research agency, Centre for Rehabilitation Studies that clearly states that “It is definite that the water and soil contamination has caused increase in morbidity pattern among the population staying near UCIL factory and surrounding area of Solar Evaporation Ponds.”
The organisers said that the Tata group’s claim that the proposal to carry out clean up in Bhopal is just another “public spirited initiative” is in sharp contrast to the absence of such initiative in the matter of environmental destruction and health damage caused by Tata’s factories in Mithapur, Gujarat, Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, Jamshedpur and Bokaro river in Jharkhand, Sukinda in Orissa and several other parts of the country. The survivors organisations will be organising exhibitions on environmental and health damages caused by Tata group of companies in the country. The survivors are energised with the offer of support from activist groups in Tamilnadu, Kerala and New Delhi who will shortly be organising Tata boycott rallies.
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
93031 32959
Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
93290 26319
Shahid Noor
Bhopal ki Aawaaz
98261 82226
Satinath Sarangi,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
98261 67369
Contact : House No. 60, Near Cold Storage, Union Carbide Road, Chhola, Bhopal
Please visit for more information on the campaign for justice in Bhopal

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