India Press Release: 25th Anniversary of the Bhopal Disaster

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Bhopal Group for Information and Action

 

 December 03, 2009

Press Statement

Welcoming the Prime Minister’s recent assurance of adequate medical relief, rehabilitation and clean water to the poisoned people of Bhopal, three survivors’ organizations demanded the immediate setting up of the Empowered Commission on Bhopal as promised by the Prime Minister on May 29, 2008. “25 years is too long for a people to suffer and 18 months is too long for a people to wait for the Prime Minister to keep his promises”, said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.

“If nothing, the recent independent scientific report by the Centre for Science and Environment on the chronic toxicity of the soil and ground water contamination and the fact at least 18 thousand men, women and children are still drinking contaminated water should make the Prime Minister wake up and remember his unkept promises to the Bhopal survivors.” said Syed M Irfan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.

“Today, there are over a hundred thousand people battling exposure related chronic illnesses, tens of thousands of children suffer congenital growth and development disorders and there are too many children born with horrific malformations. People are still drinking poison in their water and thousands of families are starving because the loss of their health has meant the loss of their livelihoods” said Hazra Bee who walked 800 kilometers form Bhopal to New Delhi last year demanding the setting up of the Empowered Commission on Bhopal.

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action condemned the Union and State government’s relentless attempts to help Dow Chemical walk away from its liabilities for environmental and health damages in Bhopal. “Today the death toll from the disaster is 25, 000 and counting and the government is still in bed with the American multinationals. Warren Anderson and Union Carbide are still absconding from justice and the government has not moved a finger in the last five years to bring the culprits to justice. On top of that ministers in the Union and State government are downplaying the environment and health damages caused by Dow Chemical’s refusal to clean up the toxic contamination.’ she said.

‘It is indeed unfortunate that while the two disasters in Bhopal have continued for the last 25 years international organizations such as WHO, UNEP, UNICEF and ILO remain to offer humanitarian and technical assistance to help end the disasters, said Satinath Sarangi an activist from the same organization. He said that had the disasters in Bhopal been due to natural causes international help would have been much more forthcoming. ‘This is because the continuing human tragedy in Bhopal is a case of corporate crime. We sincerely hope the international media attention on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary will awaken the international relief organizations to their responsibilities towards the victims of the world’s worst man made disaster’ said Sarangi who has been campaigning for justice in Bhopal for the last 25 years.

The leaders of the three organizations led the 25th Anniversary rally of well over a thousand survivors of the gas disaster and those being poisoned due to contamination of ground water. Children from the newly formed Children against Dow Carbide, people from pollution impacted communities from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and international supporters from China, England, France, Italy, Japan, New Zeeland, Philippines, Scotland, Switzerland, Thailand and USA joined the survivors’ rally.

The rally passed through the communities severely affected by the gas disaster and ended in a public meeting around the memorial to the disaster in front of the abandoned pesticide factory. Clay statues of women, men and children overpowering an effigy of Dow Chemical were garlanded by the campaigners and then Dow Chemical’s effigy was burnt amidst loud chanting by survivors. International supporters of the campaign for justice and a life of dignity for the survivors, such as Domique Lapierre from France and Ward Morehouse and Barry Castleman from USA were honoured at the public meeting which ended with children singing songs about the long struggle of the Bhopal survivors.

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