International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
Press Statement – August 18, 2010
Sixty four Members of Parliament from 20 political parties including, BJP, Congress, CPM, CPI, LJP, RSP, BSP and others have endorsed a letter urging the Prime Minister to set up a mechanisms to resolve all pending issues of long term rehabilitation and prosecuting the guilty corporations and individuals including Warren Anderson in Bhopal before December 2010. This was announced at a press conference at Jantar Mantar today by representatives of five Bhopal based survivors’ organizations at the conclusion of there 23- days long dharna.
According to the organizations, hundreds of survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal sitting on the pavement are still denied permission to set up a tent to protect themselves from the scorching sun and occasional rain. They are hopeful that the Delhi High Court that has already asked Delhi Police to justify denial of permission to camp at Jantar Mantar will soon pass a favourable order on their petition seeking protection of their constitutional right to peaceful protest.
The Bhopal organisations expressed satisfaction that significant progress has been made on several key demands. In particular they are happy that finally the state government has started work on installing free water connections to individual households in the groundwater-contaminated bastis next to the abandoned Union Carbide factory site in Bhopal.
The organizations appreciated the prompt action by the Indian government in filing a curative petition against the Supreme Court’s order on settlement to obtain additional compensation for the gas disaster from Union Carbide’s current owner, Dow Chemical, USA. Survivors expect the curative petition to be filed before month’s end.
Survivors groups also welcomed the Madhya Pradesh Government’s announcement that it would ask the Central Government to intervene in the ongoing case in New York against Union Carbide and Anderson seeking clean-up and compensation for contamination related damages. The MP Government has announced that if the Central Government fails to intervene, it will explore options to intervene directly.
The organizations said that the Indian Government has filed an application in the MP High Court seeking additional money from Dow Chemical for clean-up of the toxic contamination. The Minister of State of Environment & Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, meanwhile, has told Bhopalis that he is open to considering any formal offer of scientific assessment of environmental contamination in and around the Bhopal factory by an independent organization.
The organizations have recently submitted a scientific critique of the report on the depth and spread of toxic contamination by NEERI and NGRI. They said that the reports of these government scientific agencies are based on false assumptions and their conclusions are not supported by data.
On the controversial issue of incineration of 350 tonnes of Union Carbide’s hazardous waste, the organizations expressed satisfaction with the application filed yesterday in the MP High Court by the Madhya Pradesh Government expressing reservations about sending the Bhopal waste for incineration at Pithampur. They asserted that transporting the hazardous waste from Bhopal to a well-equipped facility in America or Europe was the only option for their safe disposal.
The organizations said that there are a number of critical issues such as compensation for all gas victims that are far from resolved. They said they are sure that the ongoing groundswell of public sympathy and outrage on the continuing disasters in Bhopal following media exposure of the role of successive governments will help them win these battles in the near future.
Syed M Irfan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha Mob. 9329026319
Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh Mob. 9425688215
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha Mob. 9826345423
Children Against Dow-Carbide Mob. 9826994797
Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi
Bhopal Group for Information and Action Mob. 9826167369