Bhopal gas tragedy victims to ‘expose’ central, state governments
Associations of the victims of the December 1984 Bhopal gas leak Thursday launched a campaign to ‘expose’ those in the government working for the benefit of Dow Chemicals, the current owner of Union Carbide from whose plant the deadly gas had leaked out, killing and maiming thousands.
Leaders of the three organisations — Satinath Sarangi and Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action, Rashida Bi and Champa Devi Shukla of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh and Syed M. Irfan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha — accused both the Madhya Pradesh and central governments of working to provide relief to the American multinational.
Addressing a press conference here, they said that while the Indian government officially holds Dow Chemicals liable for Union Carbide’s environmental crimes in Bhopal and has sought $22 million as advance for clean up, it has taken no steps against the Indian subsidiaries of Dow Chemicals.
Dow Chemicals has been fined $350,000 by the US Securities & Exchange Commission for having paid $200,000 in bribes to Indian officials eight years ago, yet the Indian government is yet to take any action on this issue, they said.
The three organisation declared the launch of the ‘Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate’ (Crow bites Liars) campaign to nail the state government’s ‘lies’. As part of this, a ‘Benign Buffet’ will be organised Saturday at which members of the state cabinet and the bureaucracy would be invited to eat such ‘delicacies’ as ‘semi-processed pesticide on watercress’ and ‘Lime Sludge Mousse’.
Gwalior-based Defence Research Development Establishment’s director R Vijayraghavan and the head of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute at Nagpur, who had certified Union Carbide’s chemical wastes to be ‘orally ingestible’ are also invited, they added.
The leaders alleged Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath and other central government ministers were acting as ‘lackeys’ of Dow Chemicals. They also condemned the Indian government’s negligence towards extraditing Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson against whom a fresh non-bailable arrest warrant was issued in July 2009.
They also charged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with failing to honour his 14-month-old promise of setting up the Empowered Commission on Bhopal for medical care and rehabilitation of Bhopal’s poisoned people and their future generations.