Press Statement, June 20, 2010
Bhopal-based organisations today sent another letter to the GoM highlighting their key expectations of the GoM. Responding to the Rs. 982 crores sanctioned by the Planning Commission, the groups said they are glad the financial resources for rehabilitation have been found. However, they said, the money must be routed through the Empowered Commission on Bhopal, which the GoM committed to set up at its meeting on 11 June, 2008. A draft order for setting up the Commission was supported by the Environment Ministry, Planning Commission, Ministry of Law and Justice and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Both the Ministry of Chemicals and the Planning Commission additionally issued adverse comments on the request for Rs. 982 crores by the MP Government stating that the cause of the victims would be better served through the Empowered Commission.
A Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on medical rehabilitation in Bhopal was openly critical of the rehabilitation measures undertaken by the State Government. The Committee had recommended increasing the number of doctors and specialists, computerisation of hospitals, development of effective treatment protocols and improvement of drug quality. The Rs. 982 crore action plan submitted by the State to the Planning Commission fails to address any of these. Instead, 95 percent of the budget for medical rehabilitation is to be spent on construction and procuring equipment.
Welcoming the interim statements that the Government will seek to remedy the June 7, 2010, verdict by approaching the Supreme Court, the groups have said the evidence presented during the trial provide sufficient basis for seeking a revision of charges to Section 300 Part 4 of IPC. This section defines an act as “Murder” “If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.”
On the issue of criminal liability, the groups said the Government has demonstrated remarkable restraint in making statements about their intention to pursue Union Carbide Corporation, including through its parent Dow Chemical Company. Dow may not have committed the crimes related to the cause of the disaster, but as a 100 percent owner of the fugitive Union Carbide Corporation, Dow’s failure to facilitate its subsidiary’s appearance in court makes Dow guilty of sheltering a fugitive. The Government must realise this and hold Dow accountable.
“Given the constitution of the GoM and the powerful lobbying that Dow is probably exerting now, we are extremely concerned that the GoM will come out with some blanket or partial exoneration of Dow Chemical. If this were to happen, it would be the latest betrayal of Bhopal and survivors and their supporters will not take it lying down,” said Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information & Action. Despite having been given 10 days time to complete its task, Mr. Chidambaram has indicated that the GoM’s statement will be out on 21 June, 2010.
Like the choice of GoM members, the timing of GoM’s impending statement, a day ahead of the meeting of the influential US-India CEO Forum in Washington D.C., has added to the sense of unease among survivors organisations.
The groups reminded the GoM that more than 280 legal professionals, including former judges, legal luminaries, lawyers and law students, had endorsed a detailed legal position paper that made out a case for Dow’s inheritance of Carbide’s environmental liabilities. A 7.2.2008 internal note prepared for the PMO cites a Law Ministry opinion on the matter as stating that “Irrespective of the manner in which UCC has merged or has been acquired by Dow Chemicals, if there is any legal liability, it would have to be borne by Dow.”
Children Against Dow-Carbide
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan
Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purusg Sangharsh Morcha
Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
ND Jayaprakash, Sadhna Karnik
Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti
Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action