'Quick action': President of India makes a promise

“A process for cleaning up of the site has to be set in motion and I agree that this is a neglect that has to be rectified.” With these words Dr Kalam, President of India, places his considerable office squarely behind the ICJB’s demand for the environmental clean up of Carbide’s festering Bhopal factory. The assurance of “quick action” towards this goal was given to students from “We For Bhopal”, based at Hindu College, Delhi, during a 45 minute meeting with the president to discuss Bhopal. When reminded that India has an opportunity “to stand tall before the world” by making Dow-Carbide, the polluter, undertake the clean up, Dr Kalam promised to look into all the legal and human ramifications of the matter without any delay.

Meanwhile in Bhopal, on Friday survivors met with the MP Minister of Gas Relief and Rehabilitation, Babu Lal Gaur, to press demands for clean piped water into contamination-affected communities. On Sunday, members of the press taken on a “toxic tour” of these 12 communities were shown noxious smelling water and met with residents suffering contamination derived abdominal pain, persistent headache, skin eruptions and cancer. Instances of growth retardation among children, some appearing six years younger than their actual age, and birth defects were also brought to their attention.

INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE IN BHOPAL
March 26 2004
Press Statement

At a meeting with New Delhi-based youth supporters of the struggle for justice by the survivors of the Bhopal disaster, the President of India said the lack of remediation of the toxic wastes and contaminated lands and groundwater in and around Union Carbide’s Bhopal factory site is matter of serious concern.” Assuring youth from the Hindu College’s Bhopal support group “We for Bhopal” of quick action, he said: “A process for cleaning up of the site has to be set in motion and I agree that this is a neglect that has to be rectified.” Four student representatives – Pawas Bisht, Shivani Mutneja, Vaibhav Patel and Aditi Rajvanshi — of “We For Bhopal” and their teacher Suroopa Mukherjee met the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan for 45 minutes on 25 March, 2004.

“We for Bhopal conveys its shock and dismay at the manner in which the disaster continues to affect the lives of people, and emphasized that the toxic contamination and poisoned groundwater left behind in Bhopal by Union Carbide should be cleaned up without delay and at the cost of the polluters,” the student group said.

The President was briefed of a recent landmark decision in the Appeals Court in New York in an appeal filed by survivors and survivors organization which would make it easier for the Indian Government to make Union Carbide clean up in Bhopal. In reinstating the Bhopal survivors’ case to the District Court of New York, the US Appeals Court has directed the Court to remain open to the survivors’ request for injunctive relief for clean-up of Carbide’s factory site by the company. However, the Court has said that such a request can only be considered if the Indian Government or Madhya Pradesh government also indicate that they support the survivors’ request for clean-up by Union Carbide.

“This is such a simple request that we cannot understand why the Indian government would not do it without any hesitation,” said Aditi Rajvanshi of “We for Bhopal”. “This is an immense opportunity for India to stand tall before the world we won’t hesitate to make a US multinational clean up its mess,” she added. The president promised to look into all the legal and human ramifications of the matter without any delay.

Other demands put forward by the students, include the immediate provision of piped water supply for those forced to use poisoned water; prompt distribution of the Rs. 1505 crore balance of compensation funds, resolution of the criminal trial against Union Carbide Corporation, setting up of an independent People’s Commission on Bhopal, and the release of ICMR’s medical reports on Bhopal.

Commenting on the meeting with the President, We for Bhopal said “The President’s assurance that he would use his office to get justice in Bhopal done will be the first step towards hope for the survivors of Bhopal.”

For more information, contact:
Shivani Mutneja (Delhi mobile): 981082951 (International callers, add country code +91)

Or visit: www.studentsforbhopal.org (see Asian Age coverage below)

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Gas Relief Minister Babu Lal Gaur attempts to explain the inexplicable…

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

March 28, 2004
Press Statement

Several media persons today, joined the “toxic tour” of the communities next to the abandoned Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. The ground water in 12 communities namely Atal Ayub Nagar, Annu Nagar, New Arif Nagar, Blue Moon Colony, Nawab Colony, Shri Ram Colony, Sunder Nagar, Prem Nagar, Shiv Nagar, Garib Nagar, Timber Market and Chandwadi is known to be contaminated by chemical wastes that were recklessly dumped by the Union Carbide management in and around the factory from 1970 to 1984. The toxic tour was organized by three organizations working among the survivors of the December ’84 Union Carbide disaster in this city.

The tour started from Atal-Ayub Nagar where journalists spoke to Haseena Bee who complained that people in her family and others in her neighbourhood suffer from abdominal pain, persistent headache, skin eruptions and growth retardation among children. Savitri Bai from this community took the reporters to the hand pump next to her house and urged the reporters to taste the water. She said her husband was sick for last two years and unable to work. The team of journalists also met with children with growth retardation who appeared to be six years below their actual age.

The media team next went to Blue Moon Colony situated next to the remains of Union Carbide’s Solar Evaporation Ponds, They met with Feeroza who spoke about the deteriorating health condition of people in her community and said that the government must make arrangements for supply of Kolar water through pipe lines. The journalists were shown samples of water with noxious smell from different hand pumps in the community. They spoke to Aqeela Bee who at the age of 35 had 2 to 3 menstruation in a month and 33 year old Shahajahan who said she stopped enstruating at the age of 25. Both stated that menstrual disorders were common among women in the neighborhood.

In Annu Nagar the journalists went through the medical papers of two cancer patients – Qamar Sultana and Munni Bee. They also met with 30-year-old Fazilat who is incapable of bearing children following malformation in the fetus and repeated miscarriages. The media team spoke to the parents of Iqbal and Zarina, both in their teens, with congenital malformations.  Jameela from this community said that too many children were being born with birth defects.

Mrs. Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh,
Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha,
Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Contact :
1.      House No. 12, Gali No. 2, Near Naseer Masjid, Bag Umrao Dulha, Bhopal Tel: 3132298
2.      B-2 / 302, Sheetal Nagar, Berasia Road, Bhopal Tel : 9826167369

———————————————
Hindu College team at Kalam’s door for Bhopal

The Asianage (3/27/2004 12:51:46 AM)

New Delhi, March 26: In yet another effort to get the voices of the Bhopal gas tragedy victims heard, the students of Delhi University’s Hindu College met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Thursday and apprised him of the sufferings of the victims.

After hearing the four student representatives from Hindu College’s Bhopal support group “We for Bhopal,” Dr Kalam assured them “quick action.” The students apprised him of the pile-up of toxic wastes and the contaminated land and groundwater in and around Union Carbide’s Bhopal factory, where the gas leak occurred in 1985.

During the 45-minute interaction with Dr Kalam, the students reiterated that “the toxic contamination and poisoned groundwater left behind in Bhopal by Union Carbide should be cleaned up without further delay and at the cost of the polluters.”

To the students’ demand for cleaning up the contamination to prevent more damage to lives, Dr Kalam said, “A process for cleaning up the site has to be set in motion and I agree that this is a neglect that has to be rectified.”

The President was also briefed on a recent landmark decision in the second circuit court of appeals in the US federal court at New York, which has invited the governments of India and Madhya Pradesh to submit a communication stating that India has no objection to clean up soil and groundwater contamination. “This is such a simple request that we cannot understand why the Indian government would not do it without any hesitation. This is an immense opportunity for India to stand tall before the world,” said Ms Aditi Rajvanshi, a student representative from the Hindu College. The other three representatives who met the President included Ms Shivani Mutneja, Mr Pawas Bisht and Mr Vaibhav Patel.

The other major demands made by the students included immediate provision of piped water supply for those forced to use poisoned water, the setting up of a distribution compensation funds and resolution of the criminal trial against Union Carbide Corporation.

Commenting on the meeting with Dr Kalam, the students said, “The President’s assurance that he would use his offices to get justice in Bhopal will be the first step towards giving some hope to the survivors of Bhopal.”

“We For Bhopal” was formed by some students of Hindu College with the support of the faculty members later last year in collaboration with the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

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Dr Kalam agrees that Carbide’s mess must be cleaned up as soon as possible
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