Gas Relief politician's PR nightmare

FROM THE ICJB IN BHOPAL, JUNE 10, 2005
For the past few days, the ICJB has been talking to workers, community members, passers-by and the media about the temporary toxic waste containment on the Union Carbide site.
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ICJB tells people about proper safety measures.
Today we were especially “blessed” by the visit of Uma Shankar Gupta, Gas Relief Minister, along with his personal bodyguard of various government officials
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This man, Uma Shankar Gupta, is the politician responsible
Gupta had invited the media to hear his statement, so as the caravan of air-conditioned cars rolled through the gates of the Union Carbide factory, ICJB and various community representatives barged their way through in pursuit.
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Water-poisoned people follow politicians into the factory
Gupta (who has been making various statements about getting the remaining 20 wards their compensation), after bringing water and buttermilk for the media folks, blamed the Congress party for not taking action on cleaning the site and for not getting the NOC when the US Courts asked for it, and tried to take all the credit for himself and the BJP.
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BJP Chief Minister Gaur was gas relief minister in a previous BJP administration which also did nothing about the waste
The ICJB onlookers caught him in this lie, since it was our own efforts to pressure the central government that had resulted in the NOC. Gupta also made a worrisome statement about dumping the toxic waste in a “secure landfill” in Pigdampura, Indore, which has already been contaminated by pharmaceutical waste for many years.
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Politician Gupta sees no danger to workers here
Gupta additionally claimed that there were no problems with worker safety and stated that if he were to spend 24 hours in the room, nothing would happen to him. Of course, the Gas Relief Minister hardly spent 10 seconds inside the shed where clean-up was taking place, and when asked, could not name a single chemical that was inside the factory.
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Barefoot child exposed to pesticide dust, Gupta has no worries
When shown pictures of workers being subjected to hazardous waste and when asked tough questions by media and ICJB reporters, Gupta claimed he had no time to discuss the details, got into his air-conditioned car, rolled up the tinted windows, and forced his car through the crowd of angry onlookers.
Before he left, Gupta did say that DOW is ultimately responsible for the clean-up. We were glad to hear that and will certainly hold him responsible for those words.
Mr. Abdul Jabbar was also present and told us that we should not be critical of the clean-up and that it was on his insistence that Uma Shankar Gupta decided to visit the factory.
ICJB will continue to have a presence inside and outside the Union Carbide factory, especially as a Hyderabad-based company will arrive to carry out further clean-up tomorrow.
We will also be bringing the founder of Greenpeace Germany, an expert on hazardous waste, to the site. If the company does not follow internationally mandated safety procedures, we will not allow them to bring workers into the site.
Footnotes
1. Photographs and background here. For higher resolution shots, please email editor@bhopal.net or icjb@bhopal.net.
2. “Technical Guidelines for the Clean up of the Union Carbide Site” available online at Greenpeace India website.
3. For further documents and reports and latest updates Bhopal, please keep checking this website, www.bhopal.net
For further information, please contact:
Rachna Dhingra, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal +91 9826167369
Rashida Bee, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh: +91 9303132298
Syed. M. Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha: +91 9329026319
Shahid Noor, Bhopal Ki Aawaaz: +91 9303122784
Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace India: vgopal@dialb.greenpeace.org +91 9845535418

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