New Campaign in aid of Bhopal gas victims
The Times of India, 13th March 2001

 

The Times of India News Service. BHOPAL: The Bhopal Group for Information & Action and other organisations working in the interests of those who still claim to be suffering from the after effects of the gas tragedy on Monday launched their new "Campaign for Justice in Bhopal". The campaign is aimed at holding the Dow Chemical Company accountable for the crimes perpetrated by Union Carbice Corporation on December 2nd, 1984 following the latter's merger with Dow on February 6, 2001.

Briefing mediapersons on the campaign, BGIA convenor Satinath Sarangi demanded that Dow accept the criminal  and environmental liabilities on behalf of Carbide of Bhopal since after the merger "Dow has the blood of Bhopal's people on their hands". Sarangi said that around 300 activists from different organisations had demonstrated at Dow's Mumbai office on February 28. So perturbed was the management that they summoned police, one of whose gun-toting members sat guarding Dow's country director, Ravi Muthukrishnan, during their discussions. FIRs had been instituted against the activists at the Chembur police station.

Sarangi said that Muthukrishnan not only refused to accept liability, criminal or otherwise, but categorically told them that the Carbide matter was a closed chapter after the compensation in 1989. In fact, even the Supreme Court's 1991 verdict had confirmed the status quo. The Dow director even declined to take a look at the legal, medical, and scientific information that points to the culpability of Carbide, and now Dow. That dangerous chemicals were still lying inside the factory and had contaminated groundwater reserves in the neighbouring areas were well known. Besides criminal cases were still pending against officials of Carbide's Indian subsidiary in Indian courts.

Sarangi said their campaign against the insecticide "Dursban" would soon take on Dow directly. "Here is a brain damaging chemical invented by the Nazis that Dow is proffering as a household insecticide." This was withdrawn from the US market last year because of its inherent  health dangers Sarangi accused Dow of following a "blatantly racist policy of double standards in matters of human health and safety".

The convenor of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Abdul Jabbar, charged that the former Pollution Control Board chairman, V K Jain - recently arrested for having amassed assets disproportionate to his known sources of income - had been paid a bribe of Rs 60 lakh by carbide in exchange for a "clean chit". Jabbar said trade union groups in Mumbai and other human rights groups in Delhi, Bangalore and other cities had expressed strong support in the struggle to nail the culprits of the Bhopal gas tragedy.