From Kathmandu, Sunday, April 16, 2006
PLEASE SEND ON
One more day took place in the lives of two struggles; and as they know so well, this is only a pin drop in the ocean of struggle that movements all over the country are today engaged in.
Yesterday, the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority failed to come to a decision on the question of whether or not to continue raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam, and referred the question to the Prime Minister (item 2 below); who, some have reported, has proposed to also pass the buck on to the Supreme Court (item 4); and where the latest news is that the PM has changed his mind once again, and is now saying the dam should go ahead.
Aside from a weak and indecisive leadership, this latter possibility has also to be seen in the contest that the Supreme Court is to in any case due to hear the case tomorrow Monday – but where, if the decision now lies with the Court, the crucial decision to review – and to suspend – the continuing raising of the dam height will then be delayed, perhaps too long to be of any relevance. So this has been a way of, ultimately, after all is said and done, of the government stonewalling the struggles by procedure.
And when NBA activists and their supporters went today to try and meet the Prime Minister, some fifty of them were arrested, and released after three hours only after a high level political intervention.
And yesterday and the day before, the Prime Minister failed to meet the Bhopal movement, even after his office had phoned and asked them to come in on Friday morning. The reason given by his office was that since Thursday evening, he was unwell due to a cold, which was also reported in the press (that he had supposedly cancelled all his engagements that evening). The only problem is that as far as we know, the most honourable Prime Minister did however, find time to meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, at 4:30 pm on the same day… It is undoubtedly perhaps only a coincidence that the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority was due to meet yesterday, Saturday, and that Gujarat was the state that stands to gain the most from the Sardar Sarovar dam.
One way to understand this lack of response from the government to the demands of the Narmada and Bhopal dharnas going on in New Delhi is that it is callous and uncaring (thereby fundamentally contradicting both the dictum of the president of the Congress-I, Sonia Gandhi, and also the Minimum Common Programme of the ruling coalition, that this must be a caring government). Many people tend to do this, unable to believe and accept that a government can really behave in such a way to its own people. But another way to understand it is that the demands that these two movements have placed before the government are so fundamental, and reaching so deeply into the heart of the constitution and soul of the country, that in fact this stand-off represents a crisis in governance.
What these two movements are demanding are not just their issue-based demands, just as they are, but that they be accepted as citizens of the country with a clear and defined role in decision-making that affects their lives; that they are not ‘clients’ or customers, or patients, and that the government is accountable and answerable to them; that they – in their respective ways – have a fundamental right to a place to live in security and dignity, and that it is the government’s constitutional obligation not to provide this but to guarantee that they can have this; and that the paramount accountability of the government – of any government – is to its people.
In both cases, what has happened is that the government has been exposed by this sordid saga as being in fact first committed to (other) clients, other interests, other considerations; and that it is no position to play out its constitutional role.
Stand back from the issues and think : It is surely
totally unacceptable that any government can take twenty years to not make decisions, and that things that the people of the country need are being bypassed by as life goes on, as policies are made, as the country is ‘developed’; that they should live, and have their lives destroyed, and die, in this way. The
situation is gross, beyond belief.
What the situation is in fact saying that the Constitution of the country no longer holds. That the government of the country is unwilling to defend and implement the country’s own constitution – let alone international human rights. That it now feels it has more important things to do.
Yes, it is that fundamental. And the situation needs
to be understood and now re-framed in this way. And strategies that are necessary re-defined, in this light, not just by the Bhopal and Narmada movements – for it is not their responsibility alone – but by all of us.
As reported before, tomorrow, Monday (April 17), is when there is a hearing in the Supreme Court of India on the Narmada case – and where, depending on the decision the government has taken by then, and certainly, if it has not taken a position by then, ‘eminent citizens’ may well put forward / add a fresh petition to the case, demanding a stay on all further raising of the height of the dam, pending absolutely definite rehabilitation of all those being displaced and with a clear margin of six months, as the Court had itself ruled, in 2005.
Jai Sen, for CACIM
In this issue of CDDB :
 Delhi Demo Diary Notes (April 16)
 Narmada talks hit roadblock; Soz suggests temporary suspension of raising dam’s height (April 15-16)
 An appeal to Dr. Singh : Take the decision on your own (April 15-16)
 Following Aamir Khan’s visit, Bhopal gas victims to get safe drinking water (April 16)
 Safe Water: Bhopal Protestors Taste First Victory (April 16)
 Bhopal tragedy protestors to continue stir (April 16)
Note : All back issues of this Bulletin (the CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin) are available here.
 Delhi Demo Diary Notes
NARMADA STRUGGLE – BREAKING NEWS
The latest news is that around 50 people were arrested this afternoon outside the Prime Minister’s bungalow – and that the PM has changed his mind again, saying now that the dam should go ahead.
A large delegation of NBA activists and their supporters went to the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi today, after5 yesterday’s news of the failure of the NCA Review Committee to come to a decision. After some haggling about how many could go in to present their request (some seven were to be allowed), some 50 were arrested by the police and taken to Chanakyapuri Police Station, at about 3:30 pm today. They were released at 6:30 pm only after an intervention by V P Singh, the former Prime Minister, and D Raja, of the CPI.
Our report is that those arrested include Swami Agnivesh, Vinod Raina (Bharat Gnan Vigyan Samiti), Achin Vanaik, Kavita Krishnan (AISA and CI(M-L) Liberation), Kavita Srivastava (PUCL), Faizal Khan, Dhananjay, Chamanlal, Shabnam Hashmi (Anhad), Asit Das (NBA), Awadesh, Aanchal Kapoor (Kriti), Saikat Ghosh, Shivani Chaudhry (HIC), Pramod Kumar Anand, Naveen Chander, Zeeshan Khan, Bonojit Hussain, Renu, Amrapalli, Bhadra Alam, Sanjay Kumar, Tanqeer, Irfan, Wilfred D’Costa, Priyani, and others. (Names not in any particular order; organisational affiliations given only as far as known; apologies for any spelling mistakes.)
Those arrested were body searched, and in protest, they raised slogans inside the police station. They were charged under Section 144 and also under Section 188, which is a non-bailable charge, but were released after V P Singh and D Raja also intervened at the level of the Home Ministry. Swami Agnivesh and Vinod Raina narrated what had happened to everyone after their return to the dharna site at around 6:30 pm.
Perhaps separately, Medha Patkar was today removed from the ICU in the hospital where she has been taken and effectively kept under house arrest, AIIMS (the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences), to the VIP suite on the 6th floor.
And from Baroda, in the state of Gujarat, the news is that local activists of the BJP, the ruling party in Gujarat, broke into the NBA office there, and ransacked the place.
Today is the 19th day of the Narmada hunger strike.
Today is day 6 of the Bhopal hunger strike. All six
are fine (in fact seven, as Josh (American/French) is
yet to break his strike, though may do tomorrow/next
day), and in impressively good spirits, with quite a
bit of smiling going on. The doctor has expressed some
concern over Didi, who is feverish today. All have
lost between 3 and 6 kgs of weight already, but are
The big news of the day is the Bhopalis seem to have got one of their demands met. The Hindu today reported (http://www.hindu.com/2006/04/16/stories/2006041611900700; see also items 4 and 5 below), and also that Babulal Gore, MP Minister for Gas Relief, has announced a 17 crore package to supply safe drinking water to 13 affected localities in Bhopal, with a further 2 crore allotted for a few other areas, from the Kolar dam.
This is pretty great news as it’s the most urgent demand really (although, that may be why they’re conceding it, tactically of course). Much planning took place this morning for a delegation of Madhu, Appa, Shaheed, and possibly Didi to go and meet the officials with a series of questions and show them round the affected bastis on 18th, and to hold a press conference in Bhopal on 19th. Obviously a lot needs to be clarified, like when, how, how much water, who is responsible, which areas will be included etc. But still it’s good news and a boost to everyone. There’s also a mention of a memorial and museum to be built inside the factory, which seems like a bizarre notion bearing in mind the fact that it hasn’t been cleaned up yet, but this may be some concessions towards demand no 6 also.
There is also a plan to hold a big event in Jantar Mantar on April 20th, with children from Bhopal interacting with children from Delhi, a photo exhibition, some artwork and painting/street-theatre/ music etc, with the focus of Bhopal 2006, not telling the old story of the past again, but addressing Bhopal now, and looking to the future too.
And so the struggles continue…
 On 15.4.06 11:09 pm, “firstname.lastname@example.org”
Narmada talks hit roadblock; Soz suggests temporary
suspension of raising dam’s height
The Hindu News Update, New Delhi, April. 15 (PTI):
Attempts to hammer out a solution to the Narmada imbroglio today ended in a
stalemate prompting a recommendation to the Prime Minister for temporary suspension on raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Project.
The Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority
(NCA) which met here in the wake of the anti-dam agitation spearheaded by Medha Patkar failed to achieve a breakthrough with Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan putting up a stiff resistance to the Centre’s move to stop work on the project touted as ‘Gujarat’s lifeline’.
The Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, Environment and Forest Minister A Raja and Maharashtra Chief Minister
Vilasrao Deshmukh countered it by bringing a resolution recommending to the Prime Minister immediate suspension of work till all project affected persons were rehabilitated in
accordance with the orders of the NCA and the Supreme Court directives.
While Soz initially announced after the meeting that he as Chairman of the NCA has ordered the suspension of the work, he later amended it saying it was in the process of being suspended as it was being immediately recommended to the Prime Minister.
“Since there is a tie and the Central team led by me had found that rehabilitation in Madhya Pradesh was not complete in accordance with the directives, through a resolution we are recommending the suspension to the Prime Minister”, Soz said adding, “we are not against the dam’s construction and I know its advantages.”
He wanted the Supreme Court to see for itself whether
rehabilitation has taken place according to its orders and an effective system is put in place for the same.
Emerging out of the meeting, a visibly angry Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi charged the Centre with acting under Patkar’s pressure and being scared of the agitation. He also accused Deshmukh of following the Congress whip and reminded him that the project stood to benefit Maharashtra immensely. “The issue is unresolved. There is no decision. There is a tie. Three-fourths of the states are in favour of increasing the height of the dam. The Centre and its representatives want to push the country into darkness due to political reasons and I appeal to the people of Gujarat to exert pressure through democratic means”, he said.
Terming as “unfortunate” the Centre’s moves to stall
the work, he said it posed a threat to the future of all states as once completed, the project would generate 1450 MW of power.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said all the three BJP-ruled states moved separate resolutions demanding simultaneous completion of the project and rehabilitation.
Rejecting Modi’s charges of politicisation, Soz said his own party MPs from Gujarat had met him and appealed against any suspension of work on the proje ct.
 On 16.4.06 12:57am, “email@example.com”
NBA PRESS RELEASE : FAST CONTINUES / MEDHA PATKAR
RESPONDS TO THE DEADLOCK IN THE REVIEW COMMITTEE
MEETING / NBA REACTS TO SOZ’S OFFICIAL PRESS STATEMENT
April 15, 2006
– FAST CONTINUES BY MEDHA, BHAGWATI, JAMSINGH; MEDHA
PATKAR RESPONDS TO THE DEADLOCK IN THE REVIEW
– NBA SEVERELY CRITICIZES THE CRIMINAL ELEMENTS THAT
ATTACKED THE NBA OFFICE IN BARODA TODAY
– NBA REACTS TO SOZ’S OFFICIAL PRESS STATEMENT
The NBA severely criticizes the direct and brutal attack of its office/residence in Baroda in Gujarat. Over 50 hooligans broke into the office this evening and ransacked the place. The office was locked and luckily there was no activist in the office, but the target certainly seems to be the papers and files, which are the only weapon used by the NBA against unjust displacement! NBA persons immediately informed Commissioner of Police Deepak Swarup and Collector Rajiv Topno. Swarup responded nastily saying that we should phone 100 instead of bothering him. Topno was non-committal. The police who were present at the location did nothing and just allowed the goondas to ransack the office and throw files down from the first-floor office. We do not, as of now, know who the perpetrators are but we certainly suspect the goondas of the BJP and the Yuva Congress who are opposed to democracy and can only be expected to resort to
The Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (RCNCA) has in its statement to the press (attached below), declared that there was “no consensus” on whether to suspend construction of the dam, “…in view of the fact that Rehabilitation and Resettlement of the Project Affected Families in Madhya Pradesh has not been to the satisfaction of the requirements laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.” If the RCNCA recognises and acknowledges the fact that rehabilitation and resettlement have not been to the satisfaction of the Supreme Court’s orders, it begs the question why they did not order to stop construction of the dam, which is continuing in violation of the Supreme Court’s orders. After all, the duty of the RCNCA is to implement the NWDT Award and the Supreme Court judgements. Clearly, political compulsions have affected the RCNCA and the Rule of Law as well as reason has been thrown aside.
The Supreme Court has itself, in its verdict of 18th October 2000, empowered the Prime Minister to intervene and take a decision in case of the deadlock in the RCNCA. Hence, one wonders why the RCNCA has chosen to invoke the Supreme Court rather than the Prime Minister to resolve the issue. It is the Prime Minister’s duty to intervene and stop construction of the dam, in view of the RCNCA’s admission that rehabilitation and resettlement of the project-affected families in Madhya Pradesh is not according to the Supreme Court requirements. The Prime Minister cannot abdicate his responsibility and pass the buck onto the Supreme Court.
Official Press Statement of Water Resources Minister:
“The meeting of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority fully recognized that the Sardar Sarovar Dam needs to be constructed as it will provide several benefits to the people in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. However, at the meeting, there was no consensus on the issue whether construction of the Dam should be suspended in view of the fact that Rehabilitation and Resettlement of the Project Affected Families in Madhya Pradesh has not been to the satisfaction of the requirements laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Hence, it is open to the Hon’ble Supreme Court to consider whether construction of the Dam should be temporarily suspended till such time as Rehabilitation and Resettlement of the Project Affected Families is done in consonance with its directions. Minister of Water Resources has not ordered suspension of the construction work of the Dam.
At the same time, the Minister of Water Resources in his capacity as the Chairman of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority will submit a report to the Hon’ble Prime Minister reflecting the points of view expressed at the meeting including the views of the Hon’ble Chief Ministers.”
STATEMENT RELEASED BY MEDHA PATKAR
The Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (RCNCA) has finally met and discussed the issue of raising the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam to 121.92m. In any case, the utterly illegal and false basis of the NCA’s decision was more than proved, not only through NBA’s analysis and submission of field level reports, but also from the Ministerial Team’s visit to the Valley on 7th April 2006, where they heard hundreds of oustees. Indeed there was no need to refer the decision to the RCNCA. In fact the official bodies could have reviewed NCA’s decision, which is in total contempt of Court and in violation of laws and policies, if they were interested in the welfare of the oustees or if they were compelled to do so by the inistries.
However, it is Modi’s politics, now hand in glove with Ahmad Patel, leader of Gujarat Congress, that gave the process a turn by making the matter referred to RCNCA. A tie and no conclusive decision from the RCNCA are not at all unexpected. Thanks to the BJP’s politics, not only Modi, but the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh also has, with full knowledge of the gravity of the ground reality, decided to support Modi at the cost of farmers and their fertile lands, populated villages and the world’s most ancient civilization. Without fulfilling the minimum conditions of rehabilitation, the government of Madhya Pradesh wants to sacrifice its people and interests, at the altar of not development but politics.
The tie indeed is between truth and untruth and between vulgar and selfish party politics and democratic values and processes.
As per the Tribunal in the case of urgency and disputes the Minister of Water Resources as Chairman of the RCNCA can stay any decision of the NCA, and as per the judgement of the Supreme Court in 2000; ” If for any reason serious differences in implementation of the Award arise and the same cannot be resolved in the Review Committee, the Committee may refer the same to the Prime Minister whose decision, in respect thereof, shall be final and binding on all concerned.”
We wait and watch for the Prime Minister’s decision, hoping that it would not breach the trust that the Supreme Court has placed in his position and stature.
We know that this is not a question related to one dam but to the future of democracy and peoples rights. It poses a challenge before us ˆ the nation and the State. If after years of struggle, multitude of officials, laws and polices in black and white, and the Supreme Court judgments, nothing but politics stand to dominate and win, it would be a big blow to civil society’s and especially the victimized populations faith in approaching and relying on democratic channels. The alternative they would resort to would obviously be not just non ˆ cooperation but even violence in self-defence. No one would be able to question the same on any grounds.
Modi and BJP politics, known to the whole world, to have won electoral politics in the name of religion and through communal massacre are now moving ahead to kill the riverine populations of the Narmada Valley, unfortunately taking Gujarat Congress and other parties, claiming to be secular along with them. This is one of the most condemnable examples of regionalism that is trying to make the democratic fora and even the Constitution, especially principles of democracy, justice and the right to life, subservient to itself. There is no doubt that Modi and BJP have succeeded in making the Congress ally with them on the agenda of winning the next elections, even when Gujarat’s rehabilitation is a sham and Madhya Pradesh’s is only on paper.
The three BJP states have thus committed contempt of court and moreover the contempt of their own people, especially adivasis and farmers.
It is in this context that the Prime Minister’s vision and commitment is to be tested. His decision would give a message to the country whether or not there is any concern for not only the Common Minimum Programme but for the human face of development.
We three ˆ Jamsingh bhai Nargave, Bhagwatibai and myself ˆ decide to continue our fast, which is committed to reversal of the NCA decision and stoppage of dam construction that will bring death to the Narmada Valley. Our lives are to be put at stake, not for any perverse cause or stubbornness but for the lives of lakhs of people which are more precious that our own lives.
Dipti Bhatnagar, S.P. Biniwale, Clifton Rozario, Bawa
Mahariya, Bhanabhai, Noorji Padvi, Siyaram Padvi
 On 15.4.06 11:29 pm, “Sanjay Sangvai”
An appeal to Dr. Singh : Take the decision on your own
We are surprised to hear that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assigned the matter regarding suspending the raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSP) to the Supreme Court, on April 15, even after the Review Committee has recommended to stop the construction work on the dam until the rehabilitation of the affected people according to the Narmada Tribunal award and Supreme Court ruling. This is nothing but a delaying tactic, facilitating the work on the dam to be completed upto 121.92 meters, flaunting all logic, law and reality to the dustbin of petty politicking. Is this the ‘human face’ of the decisions?
Why the Prime Minister has developed the cold feet on the serious issues, when all the reality, ground situation and legal-judicial provisions make it incumbent upon him to stop the construction work on the dam immediately, thus saving over 35,000 farmers’ and tribals’ families from submergence, displacement and destitution. Why he could not take the decision to suspend the illegal work on the project, when his own Cabinet colleagues, even after a truncated half-day tour of the valley, could see the dismal situation of rehabilitation in Madhya Pradesh? And we fail to understand the logic of assigning the issue again to the Supreme Court, when the latter had in no unequivocal terms laid down, in its verdict in October 2000, that in case of differences in the NCA and among the party states, the Prime Minister shall be the final authority?
What could be the logic behind the move, pray? The Court procedures are bound to delay the entire matter even farther, as our Courts are not known to be expeditious enough in case of poor and exploited people, marginalised and underprivileged sections, as they are prompt in case of the interests of the corporates and elites of the country. That the Courts have to be reminded that the person who drafted the Constitution, of which they are supposed to the guardians, clearly stated in his speeches in Constituent Assembly, that the freedom has no meaning without economic, social and political equality. At least, we are entitled to expect from the popular governments – though headed and overmanned by the members of the Upper House- to protect the rights of the common people and be accountable to them.
This would delay the decision for another week, fortnight or months together or so. Forget about the Narmada Bachao Andolan activists including Medha Patkar, Jamsinghbhai and Bhagwatibehn in their 18th day of fast. The Indian Supreme Court has been extremely rude and contemptuous about the people’s movements. In the famous words of Justice Kirpal, the movements have been seeking ‘publicity interest litigation’. This the Court cannot say about the Ambanis or Narayan Murthys, but definitely about Medha Patkar and others. So it will not be surprising if the Supreme Court cares two hoots if Medha Patkar and others die or the Adivasis are submerged year after year. So, we can expect only the government responsible to the people to respond positively to the issues raised by the people’s movements. But, alas, Dr. Singh is not wiling to heed that.
And lastly, the threats issued by Narendra Modi. They are atrocious, fascists and as such dangerously hilarious. Modi kept ranting about the democracy and state’s responsibility. Look who is talking about it? He knows too little of democracy and Raj-dharma. The Gujarat Congress too joined him in the competitive politics. He is saying that Supreme Court has given the Award to take the dam to final height. No, SC had specifically said to complete the resettlement according to the Narmada Tribunal Award BEFORE raising of the height, even in otherwise hostile judgement.
The Congress is afraid of the political price it will have to pay in Gujarat, as Gujarat Congress is to with Modi. But, even from the point of view of the petty political gains, Congress has hardly any presence in Gujarat. It could have gained immensely in Madhya Pradesh, had it taken a clear-cut decision to save the farmers and tribals from submergence and stop the work on the dam. Here too Mr. Singh could have shown little more political maturity.
Any way, there is the decision. However, there is still time of one day. Congress party and Dr. Singh still salvage the situation and the people. Here Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has shown more political sagacity and experienced nuance of a politician. Despite the stiff resistance from his own bureaucrats, he dared to side with Mr. Soz and Mr. Raja in challenging the combined might of Modi and his other counterparts from BJP-ruled states.
There is still time. Dr. Singh, please decide on your own, to protect and save the Narmada valley people from the certain calamity. And in the event, you may positively respond to the indefinite fast by Medha Patkar and others which had started since March 29. All the conscientious citizens of the country may ask the government to mend its ways.
[Sanjay Sangvai has been associated with the NBA since the 80s.] _____________
Bhopal gas victims to get safe drinking water
TIMES OF INDIA
https://www.bhopal.net/bhopalinthenews/ on 15.4.06
BHOPAL: A day after Bollywood star Aamir Khan gave his backing to victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, the Madhya Pradesh government on Saturday announced a scheme to provide safe drinking water to them.
Minister for Gas Relief Babulal Gaur said that a Rs 17-crore scheme has been prepared in the wake of reports that drinking water in the 13 gas-hit localities of Bhopal was contaminated.
Six major water tanks would be constructed, and water from the Kolar dam would be supplied through pipelines, he added.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the working of the hospitals run by the Gas Relief Department, he promised to bring about “immediate improvements”.
Victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, one of the world’s worst man-made disasters, have been protesting in New Delhi for the past five days demanding safe drinking water.
The protestors include people living in the localities affected by ground water contamination caused by the leak of over 40 tonnes of hazardous gas from the Union Carbide’s pesticide plant.
The leak, which killed an estimated 20,000 people and maimed several thousands, remains one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.
According to social activists, ground water samples collected near the Union Carbide plant have shown contamination levels 10 times higher than in other areas.
High levels of heavy metals such as nickel, chromium, mercury, lead and other toxic materials have been found in the soil.
Thousands of survivors, including those born after the disaster, are still battling the after-effects of the deadly leak – from illnesses ranging from deep psychiatric disorders to stunted growth, various studies have proved.
Protestors are also demanding speedy prosecution of Union Carbide Corp and its officials and the blacklisting of Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, till it pays for the environmental and health damage caused by the dumping of hazardous wastes.
In addition, the victims are demanding that a National Commission on Bhopal tragedy be set up for long-term medical care and research and economic and social rehabilitation of the victims.
They are also insisting that the Bhopal disaster be included in the curricula of educational institutions and a memorial be erected in memory of victims.
 On 16.4.06 7:18 pm, “nityanand jayaraman”
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Bhopal ki Awaaz
Safe Water: Bhopal Protestors Taste First Victory
16 April, 2006. New Delhi — Bhopalis and their supporters, who are currently demonstrating in Jantar Mantar and the six people who are on their 6th day of indefinite hunger strike, today celebrated their first victory after hearing news that the Madhya Pradesh Government announced Rs. 17 crores to provide safewater to communities currently drinking groundwater laced with poisons from Union Carbide’s toxic wastes. The announcement that was made by Minister for Gas Relief Mr. Babulal Gaur was received with cautious optimism. “Mr. Gaur’s announcement of allotting Rs. 17 crores for water from Kolar Dam is a positive development and a comfort to those of us on indefinite fast and those of us who walked 800 km. But we need to see concrete plans and a timeline that ensures that water is delivered before summer sets in,” said Shehazadi Bee, a resident of Blue Moon Colony and one of the indefinite hunger strikers. Blue Moon Colony is one of the settlements where groundwater is highly poisonous.
On 29 March, after completing the march from Bhopal to Delhi, a Bhopal delegation had met the Minister of Chemicals, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, and Secretary to the Ministry, Ms. Satwant Reddy. Both assured the delegation that they will send a team led by the Secretary to Bhopal on 18-19 April. After discussions with representatives of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal ki Awaaz and Bhopal Group for Information and Action, the Secretary and Minister said that they would raise the matter of drinking water and memorial to the gas disaster with the Chief Secretary of the Madhya Pradesh Government. The four organisations have said that it is imperative that execution of the Kolar water scheme is done with the participation of the residents from these contamination-affected areas, and that the Government should announce the name of an official who can be held accountable and provide a time line within which the project will be completed.
The four organisations have demanded that just as important as clean water is their demand for clean-up of the thousands of tons of buried and stored toxic wastes, and contaminated groundwater. They have said that the Government should not spend taxpayers’ money to provide water or clean-up the environment, but explore and execute options to hold the polluter – Union Carbide and its new owner Dow Chemical – responsible. They are urging the Government to initiate legal action against Dow Chemical’s subsidiaries in India to recover the expenses for addressing the Bhopal pollution and its fallouts.
On the 6th day of their fast, the Bhopal hunger strikers were joined today by six representatives of All India Federation of Trade Unions who fasted a day in solidarity with the Bhopalis. Eleven representatives from pollution-impacted communities in Cuddalore and Kodaikanal in Tamilnadu also arrived today in New Delhi to show their support to the Bhopalis.
The Bhopal activists are in New Delhi to demand clean water, clean up of contamination at the cost of the polluter, criminal action against the companies and individuals accused of causing the disaster, a ban on Union Carbide’s products, processes and technologies in India, the setting up of a national commission to execute medical and economic rehabilitation schemes, and the construction of a memorial with survivors’ participation.
For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman –
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.bhopal.net
 Bhopal tragedy protestors to continue stir
New Delhi, April 16 (PTI): A group of survivors of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, who are on an indefinite hunger strike for the past four days, on Saturday said they would continue their stir unless they are economically and medically rehabilitated. “It was a difficult day for the six hunger strikers.
They are losing weight but are in good spirit. They will not bow down,” Nityanand Jayaram, a spokesman for the protestors said.
With the stir entering the fifth day, Jayaram said the protestors would be “forced to redefine” their agitation if the Government does not respond positively to their demands, including prosecution of top Union Carbide officials, making Dow Chemicals, the present owner of Union Carbide, pay for the clean-up of toxic contamination and providing clean water for the affected community.
The spokesman expressed hope that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will give them an audience on Monday. The six protestors, part of the 46-member group which undertook an 800-km Bhopal-Delhi ‘padayatra’ which reached here on March 27, began the hunger strike this Tuesday.
Claimed by many as the worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal tragedy occurred due to “accidental” release of 40 tonnes of Methyl Isocyanate from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide in the heart of the city killing at least 20,000 people over the years.
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