Bhopalis launch indefinite dharna in Delhi

More than 150 Bhopal survivors and people from water-affected areas began an indefinite dharna in Jantar Mantar that will last through the parliamentary session. The agitation intends to pressure the Central Government to revisit its recent decisions on issues of compensation, health care and rehabilitation, legal action against Union Carbide and Dow Chemical, and hazardous waste clean-up. Simultaneously, a Bhopal survivor has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court asking the court to strike down the Delhi Police’s arbitrary order prohibiting overnight stay at Jantar Mantar. “The Police order violates our fundamental right to express ourselves,” the five organisations coordinating the dharna said.

Members of Parliament, including Mr. D. Raja (CPI), Abani Roy (RSP), Syed Azeez Pasha (CPI), Hannan Mollah CPI (M) visited the dharna site in solidarity. Mr. Raja, General Secretary of CPI said “The Government is insincere and insensitive to the plight of the Bhopalis, and has gone back on its promise to set up an Empowered Commission that would take care of all rehabilitation issues.” He said “The Group of Ministers was not formed to help the Bhopal survivors. It was formed to save the Congress party from accusations that they had allowed the culprits to escape.”

Mr. Abani Roy of the Revolutionary Socialist Party said “Irrespective of party, the NDA and UPA have betrayed the Bhopal victims.” Mr. Syed Pasha and Mr. Hannan Mollah also pledged to take up the issue in this upcoming parliament session.

“The arbitrary recommendations of the Group of Minister (GoM) will deny compensation to 93% of those who the government has certified to have suffered gas exposure. Because of the GoM’s hasty decision, in communities as severely affected as Jaiprakash Nagar which is right opposite the Union Carbide factory, 91% of people who have only received Rs 25,000 as compensation so far will receive no additional sum. We simply cannot allow this and will not rest till all gas victims receive additional compensation,” said Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh. The organizations also plan to hold the government to its promise of filing a curative petition against the Supreme Court’s 1989 judgment on the settlement, in order to extract more compensation from Union Carbide Corporation, USA. “The Government will not move on anything if we are out of sight. We can’t afford to leave until all our demands are addressed,” Bee says.

Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information & Action charged the central government of going back on its promise of setting up of an Empowered Commission for long term medical care and rehabilitation of Bhopal victims and their children. “In sanctioning over Rs. 500 crores for rehabilitation of the victims to the Madhya Pradesh government, the central government has chosen to ignore rampant misutilization and misappropriation of funds, non implementation of vital projects and more importantly the adverse comments of its own ministries and the planning commission on the state government’s plans. We will continue to fight for setting up of the Empowered Commission that the Prime Minister had promised us in 2008,” he said.

The organizations expressed satisfaction that the central government has filed an application for Rs 350 crores from Dow Chemical for clean up of hazardous waste. If the government is serious about making the Polluter pay, it should become a party in the ongoing litigation in the US federal court on the issue of contamination. “We also want the government to move on the extradition of all foreign accused absconding for the last 18 years. Along with Anderson, the government needs to bring the authorized representatives of Union Carbide Corporation,USA, Union Carbide Asia, Hong Kong and Union Carbide Asia Pacific, Hong Kong, said Mr Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha.

Syed M. Irfan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha expressed his dismay over the lack of response on the part of the central government with regard to the offer of financial and technical assistance of the European Union for the scientific assessment of depth and spread of the poisons in and around the Bhopal factory. He said that such an assessment is essential to decide on the best means for environmental remediation and assessing the compensation payable by Dow Chemical. He said that the survivors of Bhopal and organizations in Pithampur and Indore will not allow the government to transport and incinerate the hazardous waste from Union Carbide.

“We are also demanding that the government scrap plans of dismantling the plant structures in the abandoned Union Carbide factory. How can they do it? It is part of world heritage. Instead of bringing them down the government must ensure that they are no longer poisonous and make them a part of the memorial. Also we will ask the government to include material on the Bhopal disaster in school and college text books.” said Safreen Khan of Children against Dow-Carbide.

Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha Mob. 9329026319

Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh Mob. 9425688215

Balkrishna Namdeo
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha Mob. 9826345423

Safreen Khan
Children Against Dow-Carbide Mob. 9826994797

Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action Mob. 9826167369

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