Tag Archives: Greenpeace

Indian protests planned over Olympics sponsor

10-Aug-2011
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/4b245556-c2ae-11e0-8cc7-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1UhNtIsb2
By Vanessa Kortekaas in London and Girija Shivakumar in New Delhi
Anger is mounting in India at the appointment of Dow Chemical as a 2012 Olympics sponsor, marking the fiercest criticism yet of the London committee’s sponsorship programme.
The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Locog) recently selected Dow to produce a sustainable fabric “wrap” for the Olympic stadium that will display digital images. This is Dow’s first engagement with the 2012 games since signing a 10-year agreement with the International Olympic Committee last year to become a worldwide Olympic partner.
However, activists such as Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Action and Information say that allowing Dow to sponsor the London Olympics “legitimises” the company’s links to the 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster, which killed at least 8,000 people.
In 1999 Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide – the company that was running the plant in India when a gas leak quickly became one of the world’s worst industrial accidents. Locog has stressed that “it is a matter of record that the plant at the time of this human tragedy was not owned by Dow Chemical”.
But campaigners, who put the death toll from the accident as high as 25,000, say they are planning protests in Bhopal, New Delhi and London. They are also asking the Indian government to officially protest against Locog’s decision.
Activists from the Bhopal Group for Action and Information are on Thursday sending a letter to Manmohan Singh, Indian prime minister, and the IOC, asking for their support.
Mannish Tiwari, a Congress party MP in India, said if the families of Bhopal victims approached the government with concerns about Dow’s role in the Olympics, it would “surely” look into the matter.
Activists are circulating a petition among athletes in India proposing to boycott the 2012 Olympics if Dow retains its sponsorship – a move which is said to have drawn support from former world hockey champion, Aslam Sher Khan.
Vinuta Gopal, a campaigner for Greenpeace India, the environmental lobby group, said: “When Dow Chemical has not addressed their responsibilities in Bhopal they simply should not be associated with an event like the Olympics.”
Locog said that Dow was only appointed as the supplier of the estimated £7m Olympic stadium wrap after a “rigorous procurement process”, adding: “All of our suppliers must work within our own sustainable sourcing code and reflect our values and sustainability requirements.”
Dow Chemical said: “Although Dow never owned nor operated the plant and the legal claims surrounding the incident were resolved in 1989, long before Dow acquired Union Carbide, we – along with the rest of industry – have learned from this tragic event, and have helped to drive global industry performance improvements to ensure that such incidents never happen again. While the past must never be forgotten, our position as a Worldwide Olympic Partner represents our vision for the future.”

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Solar lanterns light up lives of young survivors

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) today launched Project Chirag, an income-generation initiative for young survivors of the world’s worst industrial disaster. The ICJB has decided on having “hope” and “rebuilding” as the key themes for the 20th anniversary of the gas disaster and this is the first such initiative. The project will be carried out by Bhopal ki Aawaaz, an organization of people orphaned by the disaster and a constituent of ICJB.

A first in Bhopal, this project is also the first initiative of the Solar Generation, a youth campaign launched by Greenpeace India. As part of the project, Bhopal ki Aawaaz has received 30 photovoltaic solar lanterns and its members have received training in using them for income generation. The three members of Bhopal ki Aawaaz currently running the business of lending out solar lanterns to vegetable vendors are Shahid Noor, Sanjay Verma and Sadanand.

The solar lamps are charged during the day and rented out in the evening to vendors in Chhola bazaar for Rs. 8 (£0.10p) for each lamp for 5 hours. Apart from generating Rs 900 (£11) per month for each of the youngsters in the initial phase of the business, this venture will help replace petromax and lead-acid battery lanterns with clean, renewable energy based lanterns. Sunmin, a Chennai-based organisation is already running a similar income-generation project successfully on Chennai beaches


Shahid Noor and colleagues from Bhopal ki Aawaaz at the press conference with solar lanterns

“Our group was formed to give voice to the demands of the orphans of the disaster and income generation is a key demand for us. We are confident that we will be able to run this environment friendly income generation project and some of us will be able to earn some steady income. More importantly, it will give us the wherewithal to continue with our struggle for economic rehabilitation by the government.” said Shahid Noor of Bhopal ki Aawaaz.

According to Vinuta Gopal of Greenpeace-India. “Though the solar lantern project is small compared to the enormity of the problem of joblessness among the survivors, the Chirag project will hopefully make the state and central governments take note of the urgent need for economic rehabilitation.”

Champa Devi Shukla, Secretary of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh and winner of the International Goldman Environmental Prize for 2004, said “We have made plans for several other income generating environment-friendly projects and are currently gathering resources and setting up the infrastructure for their implementation. Hopefully, by December we will have more good news for Bhopal survivors.”

Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
Shahid Noor, Bhopal ki Aawaaz
Prakash Tripathi, Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace-India
Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Contact:
1. House No. 12, Gali No. 2, Near Naseer Masjid, Bag Umrao Dulha, Bhopal Tel: 3132298, 3132959
2. B-2 / 302, Sheetal Nagar, Berasia Road, Bhopal. Tel : 9826167369

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"Bhopal: Was the Drama Necessary?"

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally intervened to make sure the Bhopalis got their chance for justice

Reprinted from The Hindu – Kalpana Sharma

A two-page press release, issued on June 23 by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, marked the end of a week of high drama. It stated that the Government of India had no objection to a U.S. Federal Court asking Union Carbide to clean up the mess it had left behind 20 years ago. It was also the culmination of three months of intensive campaigning by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) and Greenpeace. The March 17 U.S. Federal Court ruling was in response to a suit filed by some of the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, when methylisocyanate leaked from a plant run by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) killing thousands in its wake. The court ruled that the parent company, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), should clean up the abandoned and heavily contaminated site of the now closed plant. For this to happen, the Madhya Pradesh Government and the Centre had to state that they had no objection. What seemed on the surface to be a straightforward affair, particularly as it did not involve any costs to be borne by either Government, became a protracted affair with three people going on a fast unto death. Was all this necessary? Given the tame manner in which the drama finally ended, it would seem not.

The ICJB and Greenpeace launched their campaign first in Madhya Pradesh, urging the State Government to issue a letter of no objection. They were given the run around and told it was outside the jurisdiction of the State Government. On March 25, a delegation from Bhopal met the President and he expressed concern and support. After that nothing moved forward, partly because the country was by then in the election mode.<br
Launch of campaign

Finally, on May 8, a campaign to petition the Government was launched. By early June, the Prime Minister, who had only recently assumed office, was inundated with over 4,000 such petitions. On June 7, after months of lobbying, the Madhya Pradesh Government finally sent a letter to the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, saying it had no objection if the U.S. Court ordered Union Carbide to clean up the site and that this would be “in larger public interest.”<br
With this letter in hand, the activists then met the Union Chemicals Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, and he promised to take action. They waited for a week and on June 16 met the Union Law Minister, H.R. Bhardwaj. The latter apparently raised the non-issue of conflict with the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985. This law had allowed the Centre to represent the claims of the Bhopal victims and finally led to an out-of-court settlement with Union Carbide amounting to $470 million.<br
Despite the activists pointing out that this matter concerned pollution caused after the accident, the Law Ministry was unresponsive. In the meantime, several legal luminaries expressed the opinion that there was nothing in the law that need hold the Government back from issuing the letter.<br
By June 17, despite more reassurances from Mr. Paswan, the activists were beginning to despair. This is when three of them decided to go on a fast. Their decision caught the attention of the media, several members of the Government and leading trade unionists.

PMO’s intervention

None of this made a difference, however, until the Prime Minister’s Office intervened. On its advice, the Bhopal activists again met the Law Minister on June 21 and found, to their surprise, a complete turnabout. He said he had no problem but that the Ministry of Environment and Forests had to deal with this. The latter threw the ball back at the Law Ministry. Representatives from the campaigning groups sat in all the different Ministries — Law, Environment, Chemicals — and the PMO on June 22, waiting for some definite word. This finally came late June 23 in the form of the press release. The three broke their fast and everyone heaved a sigh of relief. But the story does not end here and there are many important lessons to be drawn.<br
First, the Bhopal campaigners succeeded because they had the ability to launch a campaign at different levels. There are many civil society groups without such support or such a high level of organisation. Their representatives sit on dharna at various locations in State capitals and in New Delhi and often neither the Government nor the media pays any heed to them.<br
Secondly, the Bhopal activists were lucky that they conducted their campaign at a time when there was a responsive Prime Minister who intervened. It is evident that without a word from his office, the matter would not have moved.<br
Third, the issue did not involve either the Madhya Pradesh Government or the Centre incurring any costs. They will be borne by Union Carbide according to the U.S. court’s ruling. This also made the issue somewhat simpler. Yet despite this last point, it is surprising that the Bhopal campaigners had to resort to all the tricks in their bag to finally get the Government to agree. The matter should never have reached this stage and could have been settled through dialogue. The fact that the campaigners had to push things to such an extreme illustrates yet again the gap in understanding between governments and activists. The former will not respond until the latter pushes the issue to an extreme. As a result, the latter become convinced that reasonable dialogue cannot work and only extreme pressure will.

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Woo hoo, we just got this! Warren Anderson found by Daily Mirror, videotaped and served arrest warrant by Greenpeace in New York

I am happy to say that a few weeks ago I was able, with help from my Greenpeace Colleagues, to track down #1 Corporate Criminal Warren Anderson at his house in New York. Needless to say Warren was not happy to see me, be videotaped or served a warrant for his arrest. But he was.

In the wake of yesterday’s gigantic victory in the Bhopal Courts, Greenpeace is using this recent Anderson sighting to push both the Indian Government and the US State Department to find this man (who I have on tape), arrest him and send him to trial in India.Action alerts pressuring both governments will appear on the Greenpeace Website soon. www.greenpeaceusa.org/bhopal

I’ve attached our US press release and our International release is below! Help spread the word — let’s get this crook! Call me with questions!

Casey Harrell
Greenpeace USA — Toxics Campaigner
casey.harrell@wdc.greenpeace.org
702 H Street NW Suite 300 Wash DC 20001
1 202 319 2497 phone 1 202 462 4607 fax

INTERNATIONAL FUGITIVE AND BHOPAL CORPORATE CRIMINAL TRACKED DOWN IN THE UNITED STATES: GREENPEACE CALLS FOR HIS ARREST

Washington/Amsterdam 29 August 2002 – Greenpeace today called on the U.S. State Department to arrest and extradite international fugitive And Bhopal corporate criminal (1), Warren Anderson, who has been found by a UK newspaper (2) and Greenpeace living a life of luxury in New York State. Anderson, the former Chief Executive Officer of Union Carbide, has been hiding in the United States since an explosion at his company’s plant in Bhopal, India, caused the worst industrial disaster in history in December 1984.

Greenpeace paid Anderson a visit at his U.S. home and handed him an arrest warrant. He has been facing charges of culpable homicide and an extradition order from the government of India for the past eleven years. He has never appeared in court to face charges for crimes in Bhopal or even to explain why his company did not apply the same safety standards at its plant in India that it operated at a sister plant in South Charleston, the U.S. State of West Virginia.

“If a team of journalists and Greenpeace managed to track down India’s most wanted man in a matter of days, how seriously have the U.S. authorities tried to find him all these years? The U.S. has reacted swiftly on curbing the financial corporate crimes of Enron and WorldCom, but has clearly not made much of an effort to find Anderson, responsible for the deaths of 20,000 people in India, said Greenpeace campaigner, Casey Harrell, in the U.S.

On the night of the disaster, when an explosion at Union Carbide’s pesticide plant caused 40 tonnes of lethal gas to seep into the city of Bhopal, six safety measures designed to prevent a gas leak had either malfunctioned, were turned off or were otherwise inadequate. In addition, the safety siren, intended to alert the community should an incident occur at the plant, was turned off.

Union Carbide responded to the disaster by paying survivors inadequate compensation and abandoning the plant, leaving tonnes of dangerous toxic chemicals strewn around the site and the people of Bhopal with a toxic legacy that is still causing injury today. In 2001, the company shed its name by merging with Dow Chemical.

In May this year, the government of India unexpectedly started proceedings to dilute charges against Anderson from culpable homicide to negligent homicide. But yesterday, the judgement of a Bhopal Court rejected the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation’s plea to dilute charges against Anderson. The ruling has been welcomed by those representing the victims in their fight for justice.

Calling on both governments to act swiftly, Mr. Ganesh Nochur, Campaigns Director of Greenpeace India stated, “Now that Anderson’s address is known, India must immediately and formally push for his arrest and extradition on charges of culpable homicide. In return, Greenpeace demands that the U.S. honour this request, per the two nations’ extradition agreement. Anderson and the rest of Union Carbide, now Dow Chemical, should take responsibility for their crimes in Bhopal.”

Bhopal is an ongoing disaster. One hundred twenty thousand people still face serious health problems and children born to survivors are also affected. The toxic chemicals abandoned in Bhopal by the chemical company have contaminated the groundwater that is used by thousands of people who live around the abandoned factory. (3) Greenpeace and Bhopal survivors (4) are calling on Dow Chemical to clean up the factory site at its expense as would be required in the U.S., to secure long-term medical treatment facilities and medical rehabilitation for the survivors of the poisonous gas leak, to ensure economic compensation for the gas-affected people and their families, and to provide clean drinking water to communities that are forced to consume contaminated groundwater.

“As delegates gather at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, we fully expect corporate crimes such as this to be high on their agenda. International legislation must be established to make sure corporations and their officials are held criminally and financially liable for environmental terrorism. There must be no more Bhopals,” concluded Ganesh.

Notes to editors
In 1992, a warrant was issued for Mr. Anderson’s arrest. He was charged with culpable homicide in connection with the chemical disaster at Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant in 1984. This is an extraditable offence under the extradition treaty between the United States and India. Mr. Anderson has also evaded a summons to appear in a U.S. court for a civil trial relating to the Bhopal disaster.

The Daily Mirror, 29-08-2002. See http://www.mirror.co.uk In 1999, Greenpeace and Bhopal community groups visited the abandoned factory to assess the environmental condition of the site and its surroundings. The team documented the presence of stockpiles of toxic pesticides as well as hazardous wastes and contaminated material scattered throughout the factory site. The survey found substantial and, in some locations, severe contamination of land and water supplies with heavy metals and chlorinated chemicals.

Greenpeaceis campaigning in Bhopal as part of an international NGO coalition AaCcTt including the Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Workers Association, Bhopal Gas Affected Pensioners Association, Bhopal Group for Information and Action, National Campaign For Justice in Bhopal, The Other Media and CorpWatch.

Contact Information
Greenpeace U.S. Casey Harrell
+1 202 319 2497 and +1 202 213 7810
Greenpeace India Ganesh Nochur
+91 11 65 36717 / +91 98 2004 2897
Cecilia Goin, Media Officer
+31 (0) 6 212 96 908

Photographs and video are available on request. Contact John Novis on +31 6 53819121 for photographs, and Thomas McCable Greenpeace U.S. on + 1 202 413 8517

Photos of the Bhopal disaster (from 1984 and the present day) taken by
Magnum photographer Raghu Rai, are available on request from
Greenpeace.

For more information see www.greenpeace.org

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