Gas victims launch campaign for justice
Hindustan Times 13th March 2001

 

Survivors’ organisations in Bhopal today announced the launch of what they called the 'campaign for Justice in Bhopal' directed to hold The Dow Chemical Company accountable for the Union Carbide disaster in December 1984.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, representatives of the survivors' organisations reiterated their demand that following Union Carbide's merger with Dow Chemical, it must accept the criminal and environmental liabilities of Bhopal.

Leaders of the organisations who returned last week after meeting the Country Director of Dow Chemicals in Mumbai, outlined the future course of action to be taken nationally and internationally to secure justice in Bhopal.

"After merging with Union Carbide, Dow now has the blood of the people of Bhopal on its hands. On February 28, about 300 of us stormed Dow’s Mumbai office and told them so," said Rashida Bi, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh.

Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that the country manager of Dow Chemicals refused to acknowledge their liabilities towards people  of Bhopal even though Union Carbide, the company responsible for the worst industrial holocaust in the world, has now become a 100 per cent subsidiary of the company.

"After the agreement signed in 1989 and the Supreme Court verdict of 1991, nothing remains to be settled, he told us", Sarangi said.

But, Abdul Jabbar of the Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan asserted that there were some important issues yet to be settled including criminal liability, trial of which was still going on in a local court. besides, there are issues like disposal of dangerous chemicals still stored in the Union Carbide premises, environmental damage caused by the gas leak and water contamination around the Union Carbide plant, for which none else but Dow Chemical could be responsible since it has taken over the Union Carbide Corporation.

Balkrishna Namdeo, Convenor, Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal expressing frustration over their meeting with Ravi Muthukrishnan, Country Director for Dow Chemical in India said that more than seven times he repeated the lie that Union Carbide had no pending criminal liabilities and refused even to take a look at the legal, medical and scientific information that point to the culpability of Carbide and now Dow," added Namdeo.

They claimed that strategy for the campaign for justice in Bhopal was being formed nationally and internationally and trade unions, students organisations, women’s groups and human rights networks in Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore and other cities have already expressed strong support to the struggle.

They further said that the fight to make Dow accountable for Carbide’s crimes in Bhopal would be very much a part of the movement against globalisation in this country since the multinationals had one set of quality and safety norms for the West and another for people of poor countries like India.

"It is this dual standards which had led to gas leak and subsequent death of hundreds and perpetual agony for thousands of survivors", the activists asserted.