Survivors’ leaders Champa Devi Shukla and Rashida Bee who recently won the Goldman Award and Vinuta Gopal went and met Law Minister Mr. Hans Raj Bharadwaj at 1pm at his office in Shastri Bhavan. The minister did not ask them to sit down (nor did he sit down himself, in fact he kept moving towards the door so that the Bhopal delegation was gradually “pushed out” of the door) and spent just five minutes with them. He said he has seen all the papers and this issue of the Indian government submitting a statement is connected with the Bhopal Act. He said all this has been covered by the 1989 settlement. He was given a petition which he refused to accept. The delegation requested him again to accept the petition. He took it and threw it on his table without reading or even taking a look at it. He said the Law Ministry has already given its opinion on the matter and now it was left to the Ministry of Chemicals to decide. He asked the delegation whether they wanted to teach law to him. Then he asked the delegation to leave. It seems we have to teach Mr Bahadwaj the law. Eminent Indian lawyers say he is wrong. You can take action to ensure that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chemicals Minister Paswan know the legal facts about the situation. Please read on for news of other meetings. Hunger strike diary here.
Meeting with Director, Bhopal Cell, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
The delegation of three [Champa Devi, Rashida Bee and Vinuta Gopal] met with Mr. Harish Kumar the official in charge of Bhopal matters in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertlizers at 2.30 PM. On entering his room they found his table covered with faxes. He said we can not do any work because of the faxes that are reaching here from USA and other countries.He asked them to sit down. he said he knew all about the US Court’s decision and the demand of the campaign groups. He said he has sent copies of the US Court order, petitions by campaign organizations and the letter from the MP government to the Law Ministry. He said the Law Ministry has opined that the issue of contamination is covered by the settlement of 1989.When the delegation pointed out that the matter of contamination was unrelated to the disaster or the settlement, Mr. Harish Kumar stated that it was his opinion too. Mr. Kumar said that he was in communication with the Law Ministry about it because that Ministry’s opinion was crucial for a final decision. Mr. Kumar suggested that the delegation meet again with the Minister of Chemicals and Ferttilizers. The delegation informed Mr. Kumar about the decision to go on fast without water.As the delegation was walking out Mr. Kumar’s secretary walked in with a pile of freshly arrived faxes.
Meeting with Dr Hosa Bettu, Director, Hazardous Substances Management Division, Ministry of Environment and Forests
The Bhopal delegation met with Dr. Bettu at 5.15 PM at the Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex.. The delegation presented their case. Dr. Bettu said he was fully aware of the matter and had sent his opinion to the Governments of India and Madhya Pradesh two days back.He said that the Madhya Pradesh government should have directly submitted a statement in the US Court. He said he has recommended that the statement should be submitted.
Meanwhile Mr. MC Mehta, Lawyer, Goldman award winner in 1996, said “this is a golden opportunity for the Indian government and it must make best use of it”. Usha Ramnathan, internationally reputed academic in law and retd Chief Justice Krishna Iyer extended full support to the campaign to get Indian government to submit the statement.