Letter to the Prime Minister

To,

Honourable Prime Minister
South Block, Raisina Hills
New Delhi 110001
Fax: 011-23016857
27th July, 2010

Indefinite dharna at Jantar Mantar from July 26, 2010 by five survivors’ organizations for equal compensation, setting up of an Empowered Commission on Bhopal, legal and extra-legal actions against Union Carbide and Dow Chemical and clean up of toxic contamination and compensation for health and environmental damages from Dow Chemical.

Sir,

On behalf of the survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster and the people exposed to ground water contaminated by Union Carbide’s hazardous wastes, we wish to inform you that we are currently sitting in yet another dharna at Jantar Mantar agitating for the resolution of critical issues of the 26 years long aftermath of the world’s worst industrial disaster.

We regret to say that despite the media outrage over the government’s neglect of the Bhopal survivors and criminal complicity in evasion of corporate liability, your government continues to take decisions that pay little regard to the plight of the people exposed to Union Carbide’s poisons and are directed to help the offending corporations walk away from their legal liabilities.

We are hopeful that through our dharna at Jantar Mantar and the national and international support that we are already receiving, thanks to the groundswell of sympathy and solidarity resulting from damning media revelations, we will be able to convince your government that there is an urgent need for revisiting the decisions made with regard to some critical issues. We are further encouraged by renewed commitments from leaders of the left parties to join the battle for justice in Bhopal both within and outside the parliament.

Through this letter we request a meeting with yourself or your designated representative/s for a considered response to our following demands:

1. Compensation

1a. Provide equal compensation to all officially acknowledged claimants.

Enhanced compensation recommended by the Group of Ministers will go to less than 7 % of people known to be exposed to Union Carbide’s toxic gases. This is because the GoM’s decision on compensation is based on the notoriously flawed system of damage assessment followed by the state government that was designed to downplay the injuries caused by Union Carbide Corporation.

The GoM has denied any additional compensation to 93% survivors who have so far received a paltry sum of Rs. 25, 000 for life long injuries. As recently pointed out by the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh the Group of Ministers chaired by the Home Minister has denied additional compensation to 521,332 gas victims who were declared as affected by the Welfare Commissioner, the judicial officer in charge of disbursement of compensation.

Further the GoM has decided on compensation payment to exposed persons with cancers and renal failures thus discriminating against victims who developed chronic and disabling multisystem diseases as a result of toxic exposure. The GoM’s decision on payment of additional compensation is arbitrary, unscientific and unjust and must be changed in order to include all persons officially acknowledged to have suffered personal injuries.

1b. Review death claims for which compensation was wrongfully denied and include exposure related deaths after 1997.

The GoM has recommended enhanced compensation to families of 5295 persons killed as a result of toxic gas exposure either on the night of the disaster or in subsequent years. In doing so the GoM has completely ignored the fact that 80 % of the death claims have been denied compensation and majority of these denials have been wrongful. The GoM has also ignored the fact that registration of exposure related death claims was arbitrarily stopped in 1997. We demand a thorough review of all rejected death claims and a system in place for registration and scrutiny of claims for exposure related deaths after 1997.

1c. Demand adequate compensation from Union Carbide Corporation, USA by filing Curative Petition against the settlement orders of 1989 and 1991.

The GoM has recommended that the Attorney General may be requested to examine whether a curative petition could be filed in the Supreme Court for reconsideration of the compensation amount earlier settled at US $ 470 million. We demand that the Curative Petition be filed so that thye great wrongs committed by the collusive settlement between Union Carbide and

2. Medical Care & Rehabilitation

2a. Set up Empowered Commission for long term medical care of survivors of the disaster and those exposed to contaminated ground water and the children of these exposed persons.

2b. People exposed to contaminated water must immediately receive facilities for free medical care at hospitals meant for survivors of the gas disaster.

2c. Ensure participation of survivors’ organizations in the running of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre.

3. Legal Action

3a. Take legal action against Dow Chemical Company, USA’s Indian subsidiaries so as to make it pay for clean up of toxic contamination and for health and environmental damages.

3b. Government of India must participate in the ongoing litigation on the issue of contamination against Union Carbide and Warren Anderson in the US Federal Court in New York

3c. Central and all state governments must stop purchasing products made by Union Carbide, Dow Chemicals and Eveready Industries India Ltd.

3d. Extradite authorized representatives of Union Carbide Corporation, USA, Union Carbide Asia, Hong Kong and Union Carbide Asia Pacific, Hong Kong who are absconding from the criminal case along with Warren Anderson.

4. Site Remediation & Memorial

4a. Ensure proper assessment of depth and spread of contamination with financial and technical assistance offered by the European Union.

4b. Scrap plans of incineration of Union Carbide’s hazardous waste in India.

4c. Scrap plans of dismantling the plant structures. Instead conserve it as part of a memorial to the disaster. Include material on the Bhopal gas disaster in school and college text books.

1.We find the following issues have been inappropriately addressed and need serious review before any final decision is made.

a. Enhanced compensation recommended by the Group of Ministers will go to less than 10% of people known to be exposed to Union Carbide’s toxic gases. This is because the GoM’s decision on compensation is based on the notoriously flawed system of damage assessment that was designed to downplay and diminish the death and injury caused by Union Carbide Corporation.  The GoM has denied any additional compensation to 530,033 [93%] survivors who have so far received a paltry sum of Rs. 25, 000 for life long injuries.

b. The Group of Ministers has gone back on its June 2008 decision to set up an Empowered Commission on Bhopal to plan, implement & oversee rehabilitation. Instead, it proposes to transfer Rs. 720-1220 crores to the Madhya Pradesh Government for medical, economic, social, and environmental rehabilitation. Earlier Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers and the Planning Commission have passed strongly adverse comments on Government of Madhya Pradesh’s Action Plan and have in fact recommended setting up of the Empowered Commission.

c. GoM has failed to recommend action for extraditing the authorized representatives of Union Carbide Corporation, USA and Union Carbide Eastern Inc., Hong Kong that is now reincarnated as Union Carbide Asia Pacific Inc. and Union Carbide Asia Ltd.

d. The GoM has also not recognized that as 100% percent owner of Union Carbide, USA, Dow Chemical is guilty of sheltering a fugitive from justice, a crime punishable by 3 years imprisonment under Sec 212 of the Indian Penal Code and the GoM has made no recommendations regarding the summons against Dow Chemical issued by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal District Court, on January 6, 2005.

e. The Group of Ministers has also failed to recommend any action to make Dow Chemical pay for the clean up of the thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste and extensive damage to human health caused by contamination of ground water. Dow Chemical has refused to accept jurisdiction of the Madhya Pradesh High Court for the last six years. Despite this, the Group of Ministers has not made any recommendation towards making Dow Chemical answerable to Indian courts, even as the company continues to do business in India.

f. The GoM has recommended a payment of Rs 310 crores by the central government towards removal of toxic waste. The immediate plans for this include incineration of 350MT of Union Carbide waste in a facility that blatantly violates CPCB guidelines and is being opposed by the local residents as well as industry association.

g. The GoM has chosen not to pay attention to the offer made by the European Union to provide technical & financial assistance for the assessment of the depth and spread of contamination. This is a critical step for assessment of the damages for which Dow Chemical is liable.

We hope that you will consider our views favorably. Please do not hesitate to ask for any information or clarification that you may need.

Thanking You

Sincerely

Safreen Khan
Children Against Dow-Carbide
Mob. 9826994797

Balkrishna Namdeo
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha
Mob. 9826345423

Abdul Jabbar
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan
Mob. 9406511720

Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Mob. 9329026319

Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
Mob. 9425688215

ND Jayaprakash
Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti
Mob. 09968014630

Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Mob. 9826167369

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