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Bhopal Gas Survivors stage a massive protest rally for adequate compensation

25-July-2011

Thousands of Bhopal survivors came out on the streets and demanded urgent intervention of the Prime Minister of India and Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh in claiming correct compensation in the curative petition pending in Supreme Court.

Survivors holding placards of correct compensation figures
Survivors pointed out that figures of exposure related deaths and injuries in the curative petition filed by the Central and State government are without any basis and are not consistent with the actual damage caused by the disaster. The government’s curative petition mentions a figure of 5,295 deaths caused by the disaster which happens to be one fourth of the figures of death reported by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in its epidemiological report published in 2004. Likewise the government’s report presents the ridiculously low figure of 42 persons with injuries of utmost severity whereas as per the ICMR report this number is well above 33,000

Survivors also presented a memorandum of their demands to the Prime Ministerr through the Governor of Madhya Pradesh and a similar memorandum was also given to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh


Survivors vow to continue their agitation until Government of India and Madhya Pradesh government presents correct figures of deaths and injuries caused by the Union Carbide gas disaster in the pending litigation in Supreme Court of India.

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Govt of India follows Union Carbide’s suggestions instead of ICMR findings in giving compensation

Press Statement                                                                        23-July-2011

At a press conference today five organizations working for the victims of the December ‘84 Union Carbide disaster accused the central and state governments of downplaying the damage caused by the American company in the curative petitions filed in the Supreme Court. The organizations demanded that in place of Rs 3,000-6,000 crores the government should ask Union Carbide and its current owner Dow Chemical to pay over Rs 37,000 crores for deaths and personal injuries. The organizations stated that they will start agitations in support of this demand from July 25.

The organizations said that the injury categories assigned to the victims were unscientific and without basis and demanded that the government seek at least Rs 6 lakhs as compensation per victim from Union Carbide.

Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that recently their organizations have obtained TOP SECRET DOCUMENTS that show that Union Carbide was proposing a settlement within three months of the disaster. He said that because of its collusion with the American company, the Indian government introduced injury categories and later paid the minimum amount of Rs 25,000 as compensation to 94% of the victims with lifelong injuries by arbitrarily assigning them temporary injury category. Satinath said that Union Carbide had proposed payment of Rs 1 lakh for each death and six years later this is the amount that the government actually paid the Bhopal victims.

Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that on the basis of the figures published by the government’s apex medical research organization, Indian Council of Medical Research, at least 20,0000 people have died till 2009. He said that ICMR’s research shows that between 1984 and 1989 there were 3500 spontaneous abortions as a result of gas exposure and these need to be included in counting disaster related loss of life. Namdeo said that in the curative petition filed in the Supreme Court, the government has gone against the findings of its own research agency and presented a ridiculously low figure of 5295 deaths as a consequence of the disaster. See attached Tables on Compensation and Categories.

Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh who is involved with rehabilitation of children of gas affected parents with congenital malformations, said that in the curative petition the government has not asked for any compensation for damages caused to the next generation of victims. She said that studies published in international scientific journals such as the Journal of American Medical Association and the American Journal of Industrial Medicine show that the poisons of Union Carbide have affected the next generation too. Rashida Bee pointed out that in October 1991 the Supreme Court had directed the Indian government to provide medical insurance coverage to the next generation of victims but this order remains to be implemented.

The organizations stated that the basis of the curative petitions filed by the central and state governments is that the figures of death and injury presented in 1989 were not correct. However these figures have not been corrected in the current curative petition so that the Supreme Court cannot provide justice to the Bhopal victims even if it wants to. The organization said that for the last one year they have been writing to the Prime Minister and Group of Ministers on Bhopal on the specific issue of deaths and health damage caused by Union Carbide in Bhopal but they have not received any response so far.

Rashida Bi,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Nawab Khan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Balkrishna Namdeo,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha

Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Safreen Khan
Children Against Dow Carbide

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Government aims to quell public anger rather than help Bhopalis

BHOPAL.NET OPINION. On the face of it, the Group of Ministers’ recommendations seem attractive. 700 crores in “enhanced compensation”, site to be cleaned, Anderson pursued – it sounds good, until you examine the details. Then it becomes clear that these proposals, while seeking to salve the public’s sorely wounded pride, actually do little or nothing for the Bhopalis. Survivors are calling it “another betrayal”.

Confidential Minutes from the Meeting of the Group of Ministers on Bhopal

1. “ENHANCED COMPENSATION”: 93% OF VICTIMS WILL GET NOTHING”

Lachho Bai
Nothing for Laccho Bai, constantly ill since inhaling Union Carbide’s gases, who has lost her reason and her sight.

There are 572,000 officially registered victims of Union Carbide’s gases.
The 700 crore rupees of compensation will be shared among 45,166 people who have lost relatives or suffered certains sorts of injury. (1) More than 525,000 victims are excluded. [pullquote]93% of Union Carbide’s officially registered victims will get nothing but a notional Rs 2/- per head from the insulting June 7 judgement. [/pullquote] Of these many are seriously ill with conditions not covered by the government’s method of claims assessment. See here.

Recipients of the government’s apparent largesse will be chosen on the basis of the flawed system of claims analysis that proved to be inaccurate, unjust, slapdash, bedevilled by bureaucracy, slow, open to abuse, and often corrupt. See this 1991 report by the Bhopal Group for Information and Action. Also On the Question of Whether a Fresh Survey of Bhopal Victims is Required. And Survey of Compensation among residents of Jaiprakash Nagar. Oct 2002.

2. THE EXTRADITION OF WARREN ANDERSON IS A RED HERRING TO PROTECT DOW

Warren Anderson is 91 years old. It is a foregone conclusion that the US administration will refuse an extradition request, so there is no risk in making this promise.

The government could and should be pursuing Union Carbide Corporation and Union Carbide Eastern, accused alongside Warren Anderson, and like him absconding from justice since 1992. But there is no mention of them. The reason is undoubtedly to protect Dow Chemical. [pullquote] UCC still exists as a legal entity wholly owned by Dow, which is not only allowed to do business openly in India but, as recent media reports have shown, to direct government policy making.[/pullquote]

While the extent of Anderson’s direct involvement has been questioned by the US administration, there can be no doubt about the roles of UCC and UCE in directly causing the gas catastrophe.

The ICJB does not oppose attempting to extradite Anderson, but it demands that UCC and UCE should also be pursued on the charge of “culpable homicide”. If found guilty, they would at least be compelled to pay more than two rupees per victim.

3. DOW CHEMICAL LIABILITY FOR CLEAN UP TO BE DETERMINED BY COURT.

Dow claims it had nothing to do with UCIL. But UCIL was majority-owned by Union Carbide Corporation which thus shares the major part of the responsibility for the contamination and failure to clean up. When Dow acquired Union Carbide’s assets, it also acquired its “polluter pays” liabilities.

[pullquote right]If UCC is liable, Dow is liable. This is the opinion of India’s Ministry of Law. But Dow is strongly protected by its lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who also happens to be Congress Spokesman and part of the Manmohan Singh inner circle. He sees no conflict of interest. Do you?[/pullquote]

Dow has admitted routinely bribing Indian officials to get a banned pesticide certified as safe, yet no action is taken against it. Dow used bribery to gain certification for its pesticide Dursban which is so dangerous to children that it is banned for home use in the US. In India it is sold as safe. The government has not taken any steps either to punish the company for bribing officials, or to take Dursban off the home market.

In the 1990s Dow paid more than $10 million to the family of an infant, Joshua Herb, who had been damaged by Dursban. What will damaged Indian children get?

4. THE CLEAN UP TO BE BASED ON NEERI’S RECOMMENDATIONS. NEERI SAYS THERE IS NO GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION OUTSIDE THE FACTORY SITE

deadgoat-600.jpg
No words are needed to disprove the claim that water contamination is confined to the factory site. This poisoned goat, floating in a ‘solar evaporation pond’ near the Garib Nagar basti half a kilometer outside the factory, says it all.

NEEERI’s statement is at odds with numerous reports from Greenpeace and other organisations, including two published last December. [pullquote]While relying on discredited, incompetent NEERI the UPA-II government is ignoring an offer from the EU Parliament to fund a thorough and impartial study of the nature and extent of contamination to the highest scientific standards.[/pullquote]NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur) is a discredited organisation whose slipshod methods and careless conclusions during a 1990s survey of the contamination were severely criticised by US consultancy Arthur D Little which had ironically been retained by Union Carbide Corporation in Danbury to advise Union Carbide India Limited.

For details please see The farce that was and is NEERI.

Carbide executives privately ridiculed NEERI’s work while recognising that it was the pet of the MPPCB (Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board) which was opposed to the involvement of ADL. [pullquote right]The rate of birth defects in places where the water is contaminated is running at 10 times that of the rest of India.[/pullquote]No surprise then, when in 2001 MPPCB chairman V K Jain was exposed as having amassed money and jewellery worth 15 crores of rupees by corrupt methods. The entire MPPCB board was dissolved.

The human impact of the poisoned water can be seen just by walking through the affected areas. NEERI: Briefing notes for journalists.

5. NEERI RECOMMEND BURYING TOXIC WASTE INSIDE THE FACTORY

The proposal to bury the waste on the site itself under NEERI’s direction is the final folly. It will not be done to a proper standard and the groundwater pollution will be exacerbated instead of contained. [pullquote]Says US attorney Raj Sharma, “NEERI was responsible for the creation of the leaking landfill in the solar evaporation ponds. They rubber stamped everything that UCC proposed. This plan will be a disaster in its own right if effectuated.[/pullquote]

THE GoM HAS IGNORED THE SURVIVORS’ DEMAND FOR AN EMPOWERED COMMISSION. MONEY TO BE GIVEN TO STATE GOVERNMENT

The Group of Ministers is thus reneging on a promise its immediate predecessor made to the survivors two years ago. The GoM minutes reveal no mention of a reliable mechanism to deliver social, economic, medical rehabilitation for gas survivors and their children. Nor does it make any proposals for the relief of those whose lives have been blighted by the poisoned water. The families of the children born damaged will get no compensation, no help of any kind.

While ignoring the promise made earlier to the survivors the confidential minutes of the GoM meeting reveal that it proposes to hand a huge wad of cash, some 700 crores of rupees to the MP state government. Cynics will note that years after hundreds of crores were poured by the Centre into State coffers for the creation of jobs for gas survivors, not a single job has been created, not a single person has been employed.

No doubt tailors in Bhopal and elsewhere are busily deepening and strengthening pockets.

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93% of Union Carbide’s victims will get no compensation

In their statement released today, seven Bhopal survivors’ organisations have condemened the Government’s hastily flung together plan to calm public outrage by appearing to offer additional compensation to the Bhopal survivors.

In fact less than ten percent of people known to be exposed to Union Carbide’s toxic gases will receive any of this extra largesse. And it will be distributed by the same flawed system that proved itself to be unfair, biased, corrupt, slow, inefficient and utterly inadequate.

A 1991 study by the Bhopal Group for Information and Action demonstrated categorically that the system for disbursing compensation was scandalously slipshod in how it assessed injuries and categorised victims. It was clumsily, if not downright dishonestly administered. The full report can be read here and at the end of this article.

“The GoM has based its decision on the notoriously flawed system of damage assessment that was designed to downplay and diminish the death and injury caused by Union Carbide Corporation. It has made no recommendations regarding review of death claims or registration of exposure related death claims after 1997, when such registration was arbitrarily stopped. “The GoM has denied any additional compensation to 521,000 [91%] survivors who received a paltry sum of Rs. 25, 000 for life long injuries,” said Abdul Jabbar, convenor of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan.

COMPENSATION DISBURSEMENT, PROBLEMS & POSSIBILITIES – BHOPAL GROUP FOR INFORMATION AND ACTION, 1991


COVER
iBHOPAL GROUP FOR INFORMATION AND ACTION
iiCONTENTS
iii – List of Appendices and Tables
iv – Map showing gas-affected areas of Bhopal
1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
– The Bhopal Gas Disaster is an unprecedented event
– Government’s response fraught with apathy and lack of innovation
2 – Durga Bai
3 – Disbursement of compensation is a task of unprecented magnitude
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
– Data Collection
4 – Photos, Shakti Nagar, New Gandhi Nagar
5 – Study Population, Methodology, Findings and Discussion
PROBLEMS IN IDENTIFICATION OF GAS VICTIMS
– i. Children born after the disaster
6 – ii Incomplete coverage by surveys, claim registration and issuance of ration cards
7 – iii. Substantial number of residents are not receiving interim relief
8PROBLEM IN AFFIXATION OF COMPENSATION AMOUNTS
– i. Medical examination of gas victims is incomplete
– ii. Essential tests have not been carried out on a large majority of the medically-examined population
9 -iii. A large majority of the medically-examined population has not been informed about the categories alloted to them
10 -iv. Medical categorization of claimants reveals gross underestimation of injuries
– 3. USE PATTERN OF GOVERNMENT MEDICARE
11CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
– i. Alternative scheme for disbursement of compensation
12 – ii. Watchdog committee needed to monitor disbursement
– iii. Medical Commission should be set up to supervise and monitor healthcare of victims
REFERENCES
13APPENDIX I: CRITIQUE OF MEDICAL CATEGORIZATION
– The process of injury assessment followed by the Madhya Pradesh government is faulty
– Is a rational assessment of injury possible?
14 – Basis for interim relief
APPENDIX II: ENCROACHMENT ON CIVIL RIGHTS
– Report of an investigation into “Anti-Encroachment Drive” by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, M.P., June 1991
15 – The re-victimization of the victims
– The demolition of houses
– Terror and protest
16 – Why were these slums chosen for demolition?
– Legal procedure not followed
17 – Supreme Court order
– Rehabilitation
CONCLUSIONS
18, 19, 20, 21APPENDIX III: SCHEDULE OF SURVEY
22, 23APPENDIX !V: HEALTH DAMAGE DUE TO BHOPAL GAS DISASTER – REVIEW OF MEDICAL RESEARCH
24APPENDIX V: A NOTE ON THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION TO THE BHOPAL GAS VICTIMS
– Final disbursement based on the proposed scheme will lead to major delays
– The proposed scheme will lead to a denial of adequate compensation to the majority of the victims
– The scheme will give rise to large scale corruption
– The scheme is susceptible to abuse by non-victim persons
25 – Alternative scheme for disbursement of compensation
– Outline of alternative scheme
ADVANTAGES OF THE ALTERNATIVE SCHEME
– The scheme outlined will provide for a fair level of compensation and cause the least disruption to the life of the community
– The alternative scheme will enable compensation to be received immediately
– The alternative scheme curtails the involvement of middlemen
– The alternative scheme safeguards the interests of the gas victims
26APPENDIX VI: WARD WISE CATEGORIZATION FIGURES PRESENTED BY THE DIRECTORATE OF CLAIMS, M.P. GOVERNMENT, UP TO DECEMBER 30, 1989
27APPENDIX VII: THIRD WORLD NETWORK FEATURES – CASE EXAMPLES OF VICTIMS OF CATEGORIZATION
– Suleman Khan
– Shakila Bi
– Premlata
– Bhojraj
28 – Chhotelal
– Narayani Bai
– Aladin
29TABLES
– Table I: Number of male and female residents in the three bastis and number of children born after the gas disaster
– Table II: Number and percentage of people not covered by ICMR and TISS surveys, claim registration and issuance of ration cards
– Table III: Number and percentage of people not receiving interim relief
30 – Table IV: Number and percentage of people left out of medical examination
– Table V: Number of persons and percentage of medically examined population administered specific examinations
– Table VI: Number and percentage of people who have not received notification about their categories
31 – Table VII: Number of persons and percentage of notified population receiving different categories
– Table VIII: Number and percentage of people visiting government hospitals and private clinics
32ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
ERRATA
BACK COVER

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Government’s strings are pulled by its corporate masters

Press Statement

Calling the Group of Minister’s offer of compensation a smokescreen, all seven organizations for survivors’ rights have strongly condemned the recommendations of the Group of Ministers on Bhopal. The Group of Ministers pretends to offer relief and rehabilitation but the details reveal that issues of compensation, rehabilitation and corporate liability are totally ignored. The organizations said that the recommendations demonstrate more concern for the welfare of American corporations than for Bhopal survivors.

The organizations said that the compensation recommended by the Group of Ministers will go to less than 10% of people known to be exposed to Union Carbide’s toxic gases. “The GoM has based its decision on the notoriously flawed system of damage assessment that was designed to downplay and diminish the death and injury caused by Union Carbide Corporation. It has made no recommendations regarding review of death claims or registration of exposure related death claims after 1997, when such registration was arbitrarily stopped. “The GoM has denied any additional compensation to 521,000 [91%] survivors who received a paltry sum of Rs. 25, 000 for life long injuries,” said Abdul Jabbar, convenor of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan.

The Group of Ministers has gone back on its June 2008 decision to concede Bhopalis long-standing demand to set up an Empowered Commission on Bhopal to oversee rehabilitation. Instead, it proposes to transfer Rs. 720 crores to the Madhya Pradesh Government for medical, economic, social, and environmental rehabilitation. “More than Rs. 530 crores have already been spent by the M.P. Government in the name of relief and rehabilitation, and there is nothing to show for this. The Rs. 720 crores will go the same way – into the pockets of the Ministers and bureaucrats” said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action. “The Madhya Pradesh Government’s list of equipment to buy includes fictitious equipment such as ‘automatic micro-organism detection instruments’ and ‘identification & sensitivity of micro organism” that cost more than 35 lakhs,” Dhingra added. “The Group of Ministers could just as well put the money straight into these bureaucrats’ pockets and save on overhead costs.”

The organizations also expressed dismay that the GoM has failed to recommend action for extraditing the authorized representatives of Union Carbide Corporation, USA and Union Carbide Eastern, Incorporated that is now reincarnated as Union Carbide Asia Pacific Inc. and Union Carbide Asia Ltd. “As 100% percent owner of Union Carbide, USA, Dow Chemical is guilty of sheltering a fugitive from justice punishable by 3 years imprisonment under Sec 212 of the Indian Penal Code and the Group of Ministers has made no directions regarding the summons against Dow Chemical issued by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal District Court, on January 6, 2005,” said Balkrishna Namdeo, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Sangharsh Morcha.

The Group of Ministers has also failed to recommend any action to make Dow Chemical pay for the clean up of the thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste and extensive damage to human health caused by contamination of ground water. “The Group of Ministers and in particular certain members of it who are known to be Dow Chemical’s agents have made appropriate noises but their money is not where their mouth is,” said Safreen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide. It has decided to spend Rs. 300 crores of public money towards removal of toxic waste — something which is the legal responsibility of Dow Chemical.” Survivors’ organizations pointed out that Dow Chemical, through its lawyer Abhishek M. Singhvi, has refused to accept jurisdiction of the Madhya Pradesh High Court for the last six years. Despite this, the Group of Ministers has not made a single recommendation towards making Dow Chemical answerable to Indian courts, even as the company continues to do business in India. “This clearly displays an intention by the government to let Dow Chemical off the hook and is just as criminal as the act as helping Anderson escape justice. It is in fact a greater crime because Dow Chemical’s ongoing environmental disaster continues to maim and kill people, including the unborn, as we speak today,” said Rashida Bi, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.

The organizations said that the recommendations of the Group of Ministers are designed to please the US-India CEO Forum, that is meeting today in Washington, DC. Survivors’ organizations point out that the Group of Minister’s recommendation of spending money from the public exchequer to address the lingering issue of toxic contamination follows from one of the founding principles of the US-India CEO Forum that prescribes a “specific focus on resolving legacy issues such as those impacting Dow / Bhopal tragedy of 1984 … to send a strong positive signal to US investors.” (http://planningcommission.nic.in/reports/genrep/USIndia.pdf)

The organizations said that the GoM’s recommendations demonstrate the failure of the media attention and public awareness to change the UPA government’s priorities of FDI over the survival of ordinary people in this country. They said that hundreds of survivors will be traveling to New Delhi tomorrow to place their concerns before the Cabinet Committee that is expected to issue directives based on the recommendations of the GoM in its meeting on June 25, 2010.

Safreen Khan
Children Against Dow-Carbide
Mob. 9826994797

Balkrishna Namdeo
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha
Mob. 9826345423

Abdul Jabbar
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan
Mob. 9406511720

Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purusg Sangharsh Morcha
Mob. 9329026319

Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
Mob. 9425688215

ND Jayaprakash
Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti
Mob. 09968014630

Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Mob. 9826167369

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