Madhya Pradesh govt accused of conniving with Dow over Bhopal

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

June 14, 2008
Press Statement
The BBC’s report about Dow Chemical’s Rs. 1 lakh donation to the BJP explains the Madhya Pradesh Government’s aggressive efforts to protect the American multinational from its environmental liabilities in Bhopal, said Bhopal survivor organizations currently on dharna in New Delhi. Presenting the Right to Information documents to the press in Bhopal, Syed M. Irfan, President of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha, said “The one lakh rupees is merely the tip of the iceberg. The favours extended by the State Government by way of pushing for the burning of Union Carbide’s toxic wastes despite the recommendations of experts is clearly worth a lot more to Dow.”
The BJP Government has led the effort in the High Court to burn 340 tons of Carbide’s toxic wastes in an incinerator in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, despite opposition by the Gujarat government, warnings by experts and the opinion of the Technical Sub Committee constituted by the Madhya Pradesh High Court. A massive fire damaged large portions of the Ankleshwar facility on April 3, confirming the notes of caution by the experts.
While the MP Pollution Control Board has been reporting severe contamination of groundwater from 1996 the state government continues to deny this fact. Similarly, despite a 2006 report on the health damage caused by contaminated groundwater by the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, a state government research agency the State Government refuses to acknowledge these injuries. A state government sponsored study completed last year by the Gandhi Medical College on the health effects of water contamination remains under wraps till date.
“Recently, BJP Minister Ajay Vishnoi was caught for skimming money from the gas relief funds. Now, Election Commission documents prove that the Party as a whole is treating this disaster as a money-making opportunity,” said Mr. Irfan.
The State Government is actively pushing Dow’s agenda of creating a memorial over the lands where more than 10,000 tons of toxic wastes lie buried. Survivor organizations have said that it is the buried waste, rather than the 340 tons that the Government is desperate to burn, that needs to be dealt with as a priority.
The State Government’s enthusiasm to declare as gas-affected wards that ICMR determined as not affected by the gas leak, stands in contrast with the slow pace of work on delivering clean drinking water to the water contamination affected areas.
The gas relief Minister has opposed the Commission on Bhopal recommended by the Group of Ministers arguing that there are already two Supreme Court Committees on medical rehabilitation, and that no Commission can be above that. However, the State Government’s disdain for the Supreme Court is clear from its track record of compliance with the apex Court’s directions. The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on medical rehabilitation has recorded that the State Government has failed to act on any of the recommendations contained in no less than six of its reports. Further, a May 2004 order of the Supreme Court directing the State Government to deliver clean drinking water to 14 water-affected communities near the Union Carbide factory remains unimplemented.
Meanwhile, nine Bhopalis – including survivors, victims of water contamination and their supporters – began an indefinite fast from New Delhi on 10 June. Two Bhopal residents – Rachna Dhingra and Meera More – are fasting from Tihar Jail, where they are currently held along with 21 others. They were arrested on 9 June for demonstrating outside the Prime Minister’s Office. More than 80 people from 7 countries have signed up via to fast in solidarity with the Bhopal hunger strikers. Of this, 10 people, including, noted Booker-shortlisted author of Animal’s People Indra Sinha, long-time Bhopal supporter Diane Wilson from Texas, USA and Chennai-based Shweta Narayan have begun an indefinite fast that will end only when justice is done.
Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

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