At a press conference today leaders of four organizations of the survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal said that they will open a museum and march on rallies on 2nd and 3rd December as part of their activities to observe the 21st Anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster.
The torchlight rally on 2nd December will be led by children born with congenital abnormalities due to contamination of ground water in the vicinity of the Union Carbide factory. The rally on 3rd December will culminate at a mass prayer meeting seeking divine grant of sense and sensitivity to the government authorities, and particularly to the new chief minister of the state, on the issues of the continuing disaster in Bhopal.
The leaders condemned the Central and state government’s continued collusion with Union Carbide and its current owner, The Dow Chemical Company, USA. They criticized the government for failing in its duty to hold Dow Chemical accountable for its continuing liabilities in Bhopal. They demanded immediate stoppage of Dow-Corning’s proposed Silicone plant in Pune and blacklisting of Dow by all government agencies.
The leaders also condemned the continued negligence of the central and state governments towards providing facilities for health care and rehabilitation to the survivors of the disaster and their children. They said that the reports of the Supreme Court appointed Monitoring Committee on the condition of the hospitals for the survivors were a damning indictment of the state government. The leaders demanded that the central government set up a National Medical Commission with adequate authority and resources to provide medical care and economic rehabilitation to the survivors and their children.
The leaders were sharply critical of official apathy with regard to the supply of clean water to the communities next to the abandoned Union Carbide factory whose ground water is contaminated with toxic chemicals. They pointed out that in May 2004 the Supreme Court had directed the state government to provide clean water to these communities. According to the leaders, the supply of water in the last 18 months has been less than one fifth of the required amount and there is yet no plan for laying down pipelines to bring water from Kolar reservoir.
The activist leaders said that the recent order of the MP High Court has vindicated their stand that the work carried out by Hyderabad based M/s Ramky Limited under the MP Pollution Control Board was unsafe and unscientific. The leaders asserted that they will not allow the chemical waste stockpile inside the Union Carbide premises to be taken out for burial in the landfill in Peethampur near Indore or for incineration in Gujarat . Both these technologies of hazardous waste disposal are undafe and unscientific, they said. According to them Dow Chemical should be made to carry away the highly toxic material, in and around the Carbide factory to USA and clean up the contaminated soil and ground water in Bhopal.
The organizations said that they were opposed to the state government’s proposal to build a memorial of the disaster because the government was complicit in the crime against the people of Bhopal and has no moral authority. They pointed out that the victims of the disaster remain totally excluded from the planning of the memorial and that the expenditure of Rs 100 Crores towards building the memorial was unjustified given the paucity of funds for medical care and rehabilitation.
21st ANNIVERSARY DEMANDS OF THE SURVIVORS OF THE UNION CARBIDE DISASTER
As the current owner of Union Carbide
The Dow Chemical Corporation Must:
1.FACE TRIAL: Ensure that Union Carbide and Warren Anderson present themselves in the Indian courts, and cease to abscond from the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal.
2.PROVIDE LONG TERM HEALTH CARE: Provide for medical rehabilitation of the persons exposed to toxic gases and contaminated groundwater and their children. This includes medical care, health monitoring and necessary research studies. The company must provide all information on the health consequences of the leaked gases and contaminants in the ground water.
3.CLEAN UP THE POISON: Clean up toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater in and around the Union Carbide factory site. Provide safe water to the community, and just compensation for those who have been injured or made ill by this contamination and/or have had their property damaged.
4.PROVIDE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL SUPPORT: Provide income opportunities to victims who can not pursue their usual trade as a result of exposure-induced illnesses and income support to families rendered destitute due to death or incapacitation of the breadwinner of the family.
The Indian Government Must:
1. Stop Dow – Corning from starting a Silicone polymer production unit in Pune.
2. Set up a National Commission on Bhopal with the participation of non-government doctors and scientists and representatives of survivors for long term health monitoring, research, care and rehabilitation of the survivors of the disaster and their children at least for the next thirty years.
3. Take immediate steps to send an amended request for extradition of Warren Anderson and for extradition of the authorized representative of the Union Carbide Corporation. Set up a special prosecution cell in the Central Bureau of Investigation to expedite the pending criminal case against the Indian subsidiary and Indian officials of Union Carbide.
4. Ensure Dow’s liability for on-site and off-site cleanup and payment of compensation for damage to health and property. Submit an amicus brief in US court in support in support of the plaintiffs.
5. Set up a panel of scientists for independent and expert assessment of soil and groundwater contamination. Publish ICMR toxicological and clinical reports.
6. Blacklist Dow and Union Carbide for purchases by government departments.
7. Ensure that BMHT continues to provide free treatment for gas survivors even after the 8-year deadline.
8. Declare December 3rd as a National Day of Mourning for the victims of industrial disasters. The disaster in Bhopal must be made part of textbooks in school and university education in the country.
The State Government of Madhya Pradesh Must:
1. Supply safe drinking water through Kolar Pipeline in communities affected by Union Carbide’s contamination.
2. Not send chemical wastes from the Union Carbide factory for landfilling or for incineration.
3. Ensure free treatment of patients from communities affected by ground water contamination and persons born to exposed parents in gas rahat hospitals.
4. Build memorial without proper cleanup of the Union Carbide factory site.
5. Present a White Paper on expenditures made, programs carried out and results obtained in the last twenty years with regard to the relief and rehabilitation of the survivors.
The United States Government Must:
1. Send Warren Anderson and authorized representatives of Union Carbide to stand trial in Indian court.
2. Release Diane Wilson.
Events organized by survivors and support organizations on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal