Express news service, April 24, 2008
Pune, April 23: Around 280 legal professionals, including retired judges and eminent lawyers from Pune and the state have submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister stating that the attempts by the Prime Minister’s office to grant immunity to Dow Chemical from its Bhopal liabilities are unconstitutional and illegal.
In a press meet addressed in the city, activist Neeraj Jain (who represents Kick out Dow, Save Pune) said that a memorandum signed by lawyers, retired judges and law students from the state submitted at the Prime Minister’s Office have clearly stated that the government is colluding with Dow Chemical to extinguish its legal liability in an exchange of promise to invest one billion dollars in India.
Dow has maintained that they have no connection with the Union Carbide Corporation, which was instrumental for the Bhopal gas tragedy, Jain said that in the memorandum the lawyers argue that the principles of “polluter pays” and strict and absolute liability for compensation of affected persons, and remediation of damaged health and environment are well established in Indian law.
“By virtue of this the successor company is responsible for the environmental clean-up of the Bhopal site as well as compensation and health reparations,” said Jain.
Through this proposed settlement, the government cannot let the company off while failing to discharge its “own statutory duties of protecting the environment and holding the polluters liable.” The movement is extending all support to the Bhopal gas tragedy survivors, who have put up a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
Jain said that the government should immediately agree to the demands of tragedy survivors, pursue Union Carbide and Dow for their respective liabilities. In a press note, the movement also wants the government to investigate and take action against Dow for bribing Indian officers to register Dursban in India as well as cancel the permission given to start the Research and Development centre at Shinde Vasuli in Pune.