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Tell the Indian government to say YES to a clean up in Bhopal

***Urgent Action Alert***
Fax the Government! Join the nationwide hungerstrike!

In a historic ruling reached in response to a suit filed by Bhopal survivors, a court in New York has agreed to consider survivors’ claims for getting Union Carbide to clean up the toxic wastes in Bhopal.

For this to happen, the Indian Government needs to submit a letter to the New York court expressing its support for the survivors’ claims, and assuring the court of the Government’s interest in having Union Carbide clean-up the contaminated site and groundwater.

The DEADLINE set by the New York court for receipt of such a letter is June 30, 2004.

1) Fax the Indian government HERE
2) Join the nationwide hunger strike HERE
3)Call, write, and email the Indian gov’t!! Read on for more details.

If the Indian government sends a letter to the New York court by June 30, Carbide could be forced to clean up

Contact the Prime Minister of India and the Minister of Chemicals, Gov’t of India:

Request that the Government of India say “YES” to a cleanup in Bhopal.

Request that the Government send the letter to the New York court by June 30, 2004, expressing support to survivors’ claims for environmental remediation by Union Carbide.

Address your calls, faxes and emails to:

1. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister’s Office
Room No. 152,
South Block,
New Delhi, 110001
Tel: +91 11 23012312, 23018939, Fax : 23016857

Bungalow No. 19,
Safdarjung Road,
New Delhi. 110011
Residence Tel 23018668, 23015470
Fax : 23015603

2. Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Chemicals
Tel: +91 11 23386519, 23386364 Fax: 011 +91 11 233 86519
Email: mincf.cpc@sb.nic.in
jsc.cpc@sb.nic.in)

3. Or send the letter below to the Government of India.

TALKING POINTS FOR PHONE CONVERSATIONS:
1. Ask for The Indian High Commissioner.
2. Subject of the call: To urge the Government of India to submit a letter by JUNE 30 supporting Bhopal survivors’ claims in ongoing lawsuit in New York court seeking remediation of contaminated factory site and surroundings by Union Carbide.
3. More than 5000 tons of toxic wastes abandoned by Union Carbide in Bhopal represents an ongoing source of pollution.
4. Nearly 20,000 people in the vicinity are forced to consume contaminated water due to the inaction by the Government and the company.
5. After two decades of inaction by Government and industry, survivors approached the Second District Court of New York seeking remediation of contaminated site and groundwater by Union Carbide.
6. Clean-up should be paid for by the Polluter — Union Carbide. Costs of clean-up can run into several hundreds of crores, and shouldn’t be passed on to taxpayers.
7. The Second District Court of New York has indicated that it will consider the claim if it receives a letter BY JUNE 30 from the Government of India indicating the Government’s support of plaintiffs’ claims for remediation by Union Carbide.
8. Reiterate that you are calling to press upon the Government to submit a letter to the New York court supporting the survivors’ claims for clean-up by Union Carbide.

BACKGROUND:

The world’s worst-ever industrial disaster devastated the Indian city of Bhopal nearly 20 years ago, in 1984. Union Carbide’s deadly legacy continues to haunt the people of Bhopal. Toxic wastes abandoned by Union Carbide remain strewn in and around the factory site representing an ongoing source of pollution. Poisons from these wastes have contaminated the groundwater serving more than 20,000 people.

After two decades of inaction by the company and the Government, survivors and residents from the contaminated areas filed a suit in the Southern District Court of New York seeking clean-up of the contamination by Union Carbide.

A March 17, 2004, order of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, USA, ruled that survivors’ claims seeking clean-up by Union Carbide should be considered by the New York District Court if “the Indian government or the State of Madhya Pradesh seeks to intervene in this action or otherwise urges the Court to order such relief.” The New York District Court has given the Government of India until June 30, 2004, to submit such a letter.

MODEL LETTER TO GOVT OF INDIA:

To: The Prime Minister,
Govt of India
Prime Minister’s Office
Room No. 152,
South Block,
New Delhi, 110001
India

COPY TO:
Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan,
Minister of Chemicals
Shastri Bhavan
New Delhi 11000
Tel: +91 11 23386519, 23386364 Fax: +91 11 23384020

Dear Sir,
I’m writing to urge your Government to do right by the survivors of the Bhopal disaster by taking steps to address their long-standing concerns. Thousands of tons of toxic wastes lie dumped and open to the elements in and around the former Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. Poisons from these wastes have leached into the groundwater serving more than 20,000 people in the neighborhood.

After two decades of inaction by the company and the Government, survivors and residents from the contaminated areas filed a suit in the Southern District Court of New York seeking clean-up of the contamination by Union Carbide. (Sajida Bano et al v. Union Carbide Corporation and Warren Anderson)

A March 17, 2004, order of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, USA, ruled that survivors’ claims seeking clean-up by Union Carbide should be considered by the New York District court if “the Indian government or the State of Madhya Pradesh seeks to intervene in this action or otherwise urges the Court to order such relief.” The New York District Court has given the Government of India until June 30, 2004, to submit such a letter.

Allowing the polluter to escape because it is a powerful MNC, and allowing the victims to be revictimised because they are seen as powerless poor people is a dangerous folly. Not only does it underestimate the power of organized and globalised resistance that the Bhopalis are capable of unleashing, it also projects India as a willing dumping ground for the world’s dirty technology.

I urge the Indian Government to support the legal action initiated by survivors by writing to the Southern District Court of New York urging the court to order plant site and groundwater remediation by Union Carbide Corporation.

Sincerely,

Address:
Email:

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Law Minister gets his facts wrong.

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.

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Bhopal court rejects application to dilute charges against Carbide CEO Anderson

We have just had a phone call from Bhopal to tell us that the criminal charges against former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson are not to be diluted. “The women are literally dancing in the streets,” said our caller.

Speaking from Johannesburg where Bhopal supporters have been protesting against the presence of Dow Chemicals at the Earth Summit, Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, which opposed the application to dilute, said “The Indian Government must now pursue extradition proceedings against Warren Anderson without delay.”

Meanwhile we have had a report that Mr Anderson has been sighted and photographed in the USA, where the law enforcement agencies have apparently been unable to trace him. Anyone who knows anything about this please contact us with more information.(But please, no Elvis-type sightings and no need to spy on your neighbours.)

Find key excerpts of the judgement, translated from Hindi here.

Tim Edwards, of the UK Campaign speaks on BBC TV.

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