Five Bhopal based organizations working among the neighbourhood residents of the abandoned Union Carbide factory today welcomed the legal initiative of the central government in the state High Court seeking Rs 350 crores from Dow Chemical, current owner of Union Carbide as the first installment towards the cost of the clean up and remediation of soil and groundwater in and around the factory.
The organizations also expressed satisfaction with today’s order of the High Court directing Dow Chemical to disclose its assets, liabilities and other business interests in India and to also to produce its merger documents in the next 15 days.
Two of the five organizations who are interveners in the ongoing case in the state High Court concerning legal liability for the environmental damage due to hazardous waste have been directed by a double bench of Justice Arun Mishra and S.C. Sinha today to make their submission on the issue of addressing the issues of hazardous waste and environmental remediation with seven days. The central and state governments have also been issued similar directions.
The organizations said that they found it interesting that corporate lawyer Harish Salve replaced Congress I spokesperson Abhishek M Singhvi as the counsel for Dow Chemical in the proceedings in the High Court today.
“We hope that with its new found vigour, the central government will soon accept the offer of technical and financial assistance by the European Union for a scientific assessment of depth and spread of toxic contamination and remediation measures.” said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh. She said that on June 17 the European Union has made the offer to the Indian government which is to be funded by the Indo-German Environment Programme. 23 members of the European Parliament have written to the Prime Minister on June 23 expressing their support to the European Union’s offer of assistance.
The organizations expressed regret that the state government is yet to catch up with the central government on the matter of toxic contamination. “Fifteen to twenty thousand people are still forced to drink contaminated ground water because of the negligence of the state government that was provided sufficient funds for supply of clean water four years back” said Mr. Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha.
The organizations said that they will present the opinions of their experts on the latest reports of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad and National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad on the depth and spread of hazardous waste and contamination, to the Indian government by the end of this month. Experts in hydrogeology, toxicology and hazardous waste management from India, UK, Germany and Netherlands will be contributing to this critique.
Children Against Dow-Carbide
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha
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