Today marks the one year passing of Dr. Daya Ram Varma. His son Rahul Varma has shared the following words about his father, the Bhopal Gas Disaster, and his play Bhopal. Thank you Rahul for sharing this with us.
“When the Union Carbide plant exploded, killing over 2500 people overnight, and while company bosses, corporate lobbyists and media were busy establishing whose fault it was, my father flew to India and started collecting data from the survivors and victims — data which would later become the subject of his research and, eventually, potential evidence against the corporation. He told me that the impact of this poison gas (MIC or methyl isocyanate) would haunt not only the present but the generation to come. He told me that those not yet born at the time of the explosion would carry devastating effects of the MIC, a fact which was kept hidden as a trade secret.
When I sit down to pen a play, one of my primary subjects for contemplation is how this play might be distinct from other plays written on the same theme. My father’s one-liner, “MIC will haunt the generation yet to be born” – became that distinct idea of the play that premiered in 2001, and which was subsequently published, translated and produced in French, Hindi and Punjabi.
Dr. Sonya Labonte, a character in the play, was inspired and informed by my father’s work. I based this character on him to honour his prophetic thinking. He pursued his research and produced scientific facts and published papers exposing the corporate culpability. He could not be silenced. Once, at a scientific conference in Pittsburgh, USA, he walked up to and scolded Union Carbide hired doctor Hans Weill, who infamously said that MIC would be hydrolyzed and roll out of the Bhopal victims’ eyes. My father warned him never to go to India.”
You can also read Rahul’s tribute to his father on the anniversary of his passing.
September 01, 2015, New York, NY
Today, lawyers representing communities living near the site of the world’s worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal Gas Disaster, will argue to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that Union Carbide Corp. (UCC) is responsible for water pollution from the same plant that continues to foul local wells. Over a year ago a New York federal district court found that UCC could not be sued, despite compelling evidence that UCC caused the harm.
“The Plaintiffs have provided substantial evidence that demonstrates UCC’s responsibility,” said Richard Herz, Senior Litigation Attorney for EarthRights International (ERI), which represents the plaintiffs. “Two leading experts concluded that UCC’s technology and waste disposal strategy for the plant was improper for the site, and caused the water pollution that we still see today.”
Additionally, the manager who oversaw the construction of the plant confirmed that he worked for UCC, not for the Indian subsidiary that officially operated the plant. But the federal district court ruled that UCC was not sufficiently involved in the acts at the plant and that the project manager actually worked for the subsidiary. Because the plaintiffs believe that the district court improperly disregarded evidence of UCC’s responsibility, they appealed to the Second Circuit.
On December 2, 1984, poisonous gas from the Bhopal chemical plant enveloped nearby communities, killing thousands. The water pollution here is unrelated to the Gas Disaster, but has been leaching from the same plant ever since it was shut down afterward.
Marco Simons, ERI’s General Counsel, added, “These families have been living with Union Carbide’s pollution for decades. We remain committed to seeking the justice that they deserve.”
The case, Sahu v. Union Carbide Corp., is No. 14-3087 in the Second Circuit. In addition to ERI, the plaintiffs are represented by Rajan Sharma of Sharma & DeYoung, the Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, and Hausfeld, LLP.
The survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster never want anyone else to suffer the way they have.
Click on the image below or download (PDF) the ICJB Road Map to Justice, which outlines exactly what steps must be taken to ensure a life of justice and dignity for those poisoned by Dow-Carbide
In order to ensure justice is done and the future well-being of others is secured, the Bhopal survivors’ organizations and ICJB have the following demands for Union Carbide and Dow Chemical, the United States government, the Government of India, and the Government of Madhya Pradesh:
American Multinationals must:
- Union Carbide Corporation must cease to abscond from justice and answer, through its designated official, charges of manslaughter and grievous assault in the criminal case pending before the Bhopal District Court.
- Union Carbide and Dow Chemical must pay additional compensation as sought by the Government of India’s Curative Petition in the Supreme Court of India to pay for actual number of deaths and injuries caused by the gas disaster.
- Union Carbide and Dow Chemical must clean up of contaminated soil and ground water in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory and pay for health monitoring of the affected population.
- Dow Chemical must respond to summons issued by the Bhopal District Court to appear before March 14, 2015 in the ongoing criminal case.
Government of USA must:
- Acknowledge and express regret for financing, through its EXIM Bank, the construction of the hazardously designed plant that caused the world’s worst industrial disaster.
- Acknowledge and express regret for rejecting requests by the Indian government for extradition of Warren Anderson, prime accused in the criminal case on the disaster.
- Extradite John McDonald, Secretary to answer charges of manslaughter and grievous assault in the Bhopal District Court.
Government of India must:
- In line with promises made by Mr. Ananth Kumar, Minister Chemicals & Fertilizers on November 14, 2014, pay additional compensation of Rs. One hundred thousand to those claimants who have been earlier paid only Rs. 25 thousand as compensation and were wrongfully denied additional compensation.
- In line with promises made by Mr. Ananth Kumar, Minister Chemicals & Fertilizers on November 14, 2014, revise the figures of Bhopal disaster related death and injury as presented in the Curative Petition before the Supreme Court of India on the basis of scientific facts and seek urgent hearing on the petition.
- Intervene in the US Federal Court in support of Bhopal victims of ground-water contamination seeking clean up of the Union Carbide factory area and its surroundings.
- Not allow Dow Chemical to make any investments in this country, directly or indirectly, till it accepts Union Carbide’s liabilities in Bhopal.
- Ensure that a comprehensive scientific assessment of the nature, depth and spread of contamination is carried out by a competent national or international agency for clean up and assessment of evironmental damage caused byUnion Carbide / Dow Chemical..
- Ensure that the prosecution agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), makes the authorized representative of Union Carbide Corporation, Secretary, John McDonald appear before the Bhopal District Court in the pending criminal case on the disaster.
- Set up a special prosecution cell in the CBI and arrange for fast track courts for speedy prosecution of Keshub Mahindra and other Indian accused under enhanced criminal charges.
- Ensure that the Bhopal Memorial Hospital has full facilities for treatment of all diseases known to be associated with exposure to Union Carbide’s poisons.
- Ensure that the National Institute for Research in Environmental Health (NIREH) provides treatment protocols specific to exposure related health problems and carries out medical research that benefits the gas victims and those exposed to contaminated ground -water.
- Set up an Empowered Commission on Bhopal with adequate funds, authority and participation of survivors’ representatives for planning, implementation and monitoring medical, social, economic and environmental rehabilitation.
- Declare December 3 as a Day of Industrial Safety and include Bhopal Gas disaster in school and college text-books.
Government of Madhya Pradesh must:
- Intervene in the US Federal Court as the owner of the land of the Union Carbide factory site in support of Bhopal victims of ground water contamination seeking clean up of the factory area and its surrounding.
- Ensure that all hospitals run by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department are adequately staffed, stock quality medicines, use standardized treatment protocols and offer free treatment to people exposed to contaminated ground water.
- Ensure that every person known to be disabled or turned destitute including widows as a result of the disaster receives a lifelong monthly pension of at least Rs. 1000/- as social support.
- Start providing rehabilitation and medical care to all children of gas and contaminated water exposed parents with congenital disabilities.
- Punish corrupt officials involved in misappropriation of Rs. 18 Crores in the work of economic rehabilitation.