Complaint filed against Dow Chemicals and others at the Gautam Nagar Police Station, Bhopal on 2nd April, 2001

[Translated from Hindi]

To,

Officer in charge

Gautam Nagar Police Station

Berasia Road

Bhopal

Sub : Punitive action against persons responsible for the incident of fire in Atal - Ayub Nagar on March 21, 2001

Sir,

Atal-Ayub Nagar is a community of 2000 people about 1 kilometer north-east of Gautam Nagar police station. People began settling in this community in 1986. Most of the residents are those affected by the 2-3 December, 1984 Union Carbide disaster and are living in 'kutchha' houses because of their low economic status.

Civic facilities have been provided to this community by the Madhya Pradesh government and the Bhopal Municipal Corporation since 1991. Handpumps, roads, anganwadis , sewing centres are included in these civic facilities. In addition water is supplied by the Municipal Corporation in tankers on a daily basis.

The southern end of Atal Ayub Nagar is adjacent to the northern wall of the factory of the US based company Union Carbide. According to former workers of the Union Carbide factory hundreds of tons of poisonous chemicals were dumped by the factory management from 1970 to 1984.

A study carried out by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute {NEERI}, Nagpur in 1994 under the directions of Union Carbide shows that Union Carbide has dumped large quantities of Temic, Sevin, Lindane, Methylene chloride, Alpha Naphthol and other poisonous chemicals over and under the ground. According to scientific information some of the chemicals recklessly dumped by the management of Union Carbide are highly inflammable and lethally poisonous gases are formed due to their burning. There is also information that suggests that some of the chemicals may be self combustible under specific conditions. Along with inflammable poisonous chemicals there are much dry grass and weeds over a large area that catch fire easily.

On 21.3.2001, Wednesday at about 3.30 PM there was a fire in the factory premises. Because of the strong northerly winds flames of this fire crossd the walls and enveloped several houses in Atal Ayub Nagar. As a result of this terrible incident there was much panic among thousands of people in Shakti Nagar and Chhola communities. The smoke from the fire carried the strong smell of burning chillies similar to the smell of the gases that leaked from Union Carbide's factory on December 2-3, 1984. Hundreds of people who were surrounded by the poisonous fumes suffered from terrible breathing difficulties, choking and burning in the eyes and lungs and other physical problems. Hundreds of families panicked as a result of the fire in the Union Carbide factory and fled their homes. Many families threw their household goods out of their houses to protect them from fire. Many families had their goods stolen.

As a consequence of the fire in the Union Carbide factory premises on 21.3.2001 houses of 10 families were damaged completely. Houses of 12 families were damaged partially and 11 families suffered damages to household goods. Many residents suffered burn injuries in their attempts to protect the houses from the ravages of fire. A detailed description of the damage caused by this terrible fire is attached with this complaint.

This is the third incident of fire inside the Union Carbide factory premises in the last two years. Earlier there have been two massive fire incidents on March 13, 1999 and April 26, 1999. These two incidents caused much panic among the residents of Arif Nagar, Atal Ayub Nagar, Shakti Nagar, Rishaldar Colony and Jaiprakash Nagar and they also suffered damages to their person due to the poisonous fumes.

According to our information the management of Union Carbide has dumped very poisonous chemicals in and around the factory premises in a reckless manner. Union carbide has now merged itself with another multinational Dow Chemical Company whose Indian head office is in Mumbai at the following address :

 

Shri Ravi Muthukrishnan

Managing Director

Unit 1, V N Purav Marg

Chembur, Mumbai [Maharashtra]

Several petitions have been sent to the concerned officials of the Government of India and M P government on the matter of protecting the residents from the hazards of over 500 tons of chemical waste that have been dumped in the factory premises.

Dr. V K Jain, Chairman, M P Pollution Control Board is one of the officials responsible

for deliberate neglect with regard to information on lethal chemicals inside the premises of the Union Carbide factory.

 

The signatories request you to :

 

  1. Register the complaints described above as a First Information Report [FIR].
  2. Keeping the time taken for investigation of this matter in mind, condone the delay by signatories in filing this complaint
  3. Institute investigations and take lawful action against individuals and organizations responsible for spreading panic among the population, arson, assault, storage of hazardous chemicals, polluting the environment and other crimes arising from the incident of fire in the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on March 21, 2001

Sincerely,

Bhopal 1. Shrimati Rashida Bi

Date : 2.04.2001 President, Gas Peedit Mahila

Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal

2. Balkrishna Namdeo

President, Nirashrit Pension

Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha

A - 543, Housing Board Colony

Aishbag, Bhopal