Tag Archives: Indian Supreme Court

While politicians posture, people die

For more than 20,000 people who suffered terrible injuries on the night of poison two decades ago, recent Supreme Court decisions about clean water and distribution of compensation monies come too late. Those twenty thousand are the dead. In their case neither was justice done, nor any humanity shown. The company, whose actions by any civilised standard are beneath contempt, is scarcely less callous in its treatment of the victims than successive waves of Indian politicians in central and state governments. The Supreme Court issues orders, the politicians ignore them. Hence the clean water demo of two days ago that brought Bhopal to a halt.

Today, there is more news from the Supreme Court – issues regarding distribution of compensation money are likely soon to be resolved. But local BJP politicians, led by Chief Minister Gaur, who earlier today pledged to make Madhya Pradesh a “corruption-free” zone, are asking the Court to distribute the money to the whole city, rather than just to those injured for whom it was intended and to whom it has been for so many years denied. In the unlikely event that such a petition is granted, it would be the first instance of Supreme Court-funded voter bribery.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Bhopal ki Aawaaz

October 1, 2004
Press Statement

Addressing a press conference today, leaders of four organizations active on the issues of the December1984 Union Carbide disaster informed victims of the disaster that the Supreme Court of India is most likely to resolve all pending issues regarding the distribution of balance of compensation very soon. The leaders stated that at the hearing in the Supreme Court today, the judges have clearly reiterated that the balance of compensation money can only go to individual victims of the disaster.

The matters that were taken up by the Supreme Court in today’s hearing were the submission made by the Welfare Commissioner, Bhopal Gas Victims with regard to the mode of distribution of the balance of compensation. Representing petitioners Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla and other victims, Advocate Mr. S Muralidhar argued for fair, simple and speedy distribution of the compensation amount. According to Mr. Muralidhar the court would like to hear the case at length with a view to resolving all questions at the next hearing of Supreme Court on October 26, 2004.

Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla from the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh who initiated the move for distribution of balance of compensation in March 2003 said that five applications have been filed in the matter by various agencies. The parties that have filed these applications are: Union of India, State of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust, Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] and Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan [BGPMUS]. However, the Supreme Court has not issued any notice on these applications despite plea by respective lawyers. The Court will decide whether or not to entertain them at the next hearing on 26th October.

The application by the Union of India has sought clarification on the implementation of the July 19, 2004 decision of the Supreme Court regarding compensation distribution. The application by the State of Madhya Pradesh has sought Rs. 600 Crores from the balance of compensation fund for long-term medical care and economic and environmental rehabilitation. The application by the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust has sought release of the balance moneys out of the sale of the attached shares and for further funds for carrying out its obligations to provide medical relief to gas victims beyond 2005.

The petition filed by the Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP has sought the inclusion of the residents of the 20 unaffected wards among the recipients of the balance of compensation fund. The Petition filed jointly by the BGPMUS and the Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti has called for a re-examination of the inadequacies of the Bhopal settlement of 1989.

Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Shahid Noor, Bhopal ki Aawaaz
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Contact :
House No. 12, Gali No. 2, Near Naseer Masjid, Bag Umrao Dulha, Bhopal Tel: 3132298
B-2 / 302, Sheetal Nagar, Berasia Road, Bhopal. Tel: 9826167369
For more information please visit www.bhopal.net

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Bhopal roads blocked for clean water

Tired of waiting for the government of Madhya Pradesh to obey a five-month-old Supreme Court order to supply clean water to contaminated areas, communities bearing the brunt of Carbide’s water poisoning today forced the issue with a blockade of two of Bhopal’s main roads. The action follows recent meetings with Babulal Gaur, then Minister for Gas Relief but now Chief Minister, and a 2,000 strong demonstration outside the Chief Minister’s residence in July that have not yet generated action from pitiless local officials. Friends in Bhopal explain that the MP government is blatantly lying to the Supreme Court over the amount of clean water being piped into communities that are otherwise forced to drink cancer causing chemicals. More direct actions are planned if this criminal neglect doesn’t end immediately.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Bhopal ki Awaz

September 28, 2004 press statement

Leaders of four organizations active on the issues of the December ’84 Union Carbide disaster today announced that they would block traffic [“Chakka Jaam”] tomorrow on September 29, calling for immediate laying down of pipe lines for safe drinking water to the residents of the communities affected by ground water contamination. Two of the main roads entering the city would be blocked by residents of the 14 communities in the vicinity of Union Carbide’s factory and hazardous landfill the two sources of the contamination.

It has been almost five months since the Supreme Court of India directed the State Government to supply safe drinking water to the affected communities. Mrs. Rashida Bee, President, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh alleged that the state government is brazenly lying to the Supreme Court on this matter and is forcing people to consume water laced with cancer causing chemicals. She said that abdominal pain, giddiness, anemia, growth retardation among children, birth defects, skin disorders are commonly occurring health consequences of contaminated water among the 20,000 residents who are forced to use water from local hand pumps.

Shahid Noor of Bhopal ki Awaz pointed out that the affidavit submitted in response to the May 7, 2004 directive of the Supreme Court contains deliberate misinformation on the supply of water. While the government has claimed to be supplying 360, 000 litres of water per day through tankers and pipeline, according to Mr. Noor, the actual supply of water was little over 42, 000 litres per day in August dropping from 89, 000 litres in July this year.

Mr. Syed M Irfan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, said that the blocking of road traffic will be the first of a series of direct action by the people of the affected communities. Mothers concerned and angry about the damaging effect of the poisons known to be present in their breast milk on their babies would be at the front line of these actions, he said.

Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh

Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Shahid Noor
Bhopal ki Awaz

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

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

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Survivors celebrate Supreme Court victory

Organisations working with the survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster held a celebratory party for S Muralidhar, the survivors’ lawyer in the Supreme Court of India.

As counsel for Mrs Rashida Bee, Mrs Champa Devi Shukla and 34 other victims of Carbide’s gases, Muralidhar had moved a Writ arguing that undistributed compensation money held without explanation in the Reserve Bank of India for the last 15 years should be distributed among the 500,000 plus survivors. On July 19, 2004 the Supreme Court directed that the monies, amounting to Rs. 1,503 crores (€266 million, £180 million, US$324 million) belonged to the gas victims and should be given to them. Divided between more than half a million people, this isn’t Eldorado, in many cases it will not cover what people have spent on medicines, but it is nonetheless a great victory and was celebrated as such in the bastis and bidonvilles of Bhopal.

At the party, held in Chhola Naka near the Union Carbide factory, hundreds of gas victims garlanded Mr. Muralidhar amidst the sound of drums, cheering and clapping. Mr. Muralidhar in his speech advised the gas victims to deposit the money they receive in accounts in post offices. He cautioned the people not to give in to officials who might demand bribes and to put the money towards long term benefits. He assured that he would continue to fight for the rights of the gas victims. Mrs Rashida Bee and Mrs Champa Devi thanked Mr. Muralidhar on behalf of the residents of the 36 gas affected wards.<br
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Shahid Noor, Bhopal ki Aawaaz
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action

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Supreme Court orders unpaid compensation money to be given to survivors: celebrations in Bhopal, gloom in Midland, Michigan

19 July, 2004, Bhopal In a major victory for the Bhopal survivors, the Supreme Court today ordered the Government of India to distribute the balance of compensation remaining from Union Carbide’s settlement among the 566,876 Bhopal survivors whose claims have been successfully settled. The balance of the hitherto undistributed compensation has accumulated interest and grown to Rs. 1,505 crores (some $327 million).

Survivors whose claims may have been wrongly dismissed or who were underpaid were directed by the court to file a separate application, and seek compensation from the Government of India. The case, argued by Advocate S. Muralidhar, was filed on 5 March 2003 by 36 petitioners representing one gas-affected wards each.

While this is a real victory for the survivors and their supporters, they have been made to wait nearly twenty years since the night of terror. The average payout will still only amount to $570 per person which, despite Dow-Carbide’s now famous dictum that “$500 is plenty good for an Indian”, comes nowhere near meeting the costs of medical treatment that survivors have already had to fund for themselves, much less compensating for two decades of illness, loss of livelihood and fear for what new horrors may emerge in their bodies.

It is a further setback for the Dow-Carbide corporation and its political accomplices in India, who are on record as demanding that this money, meant for the relief of the survivors, should be used to clean up the company’s abandoned and polluted factory in Bhopal. Last month, the Government of India threw its weight behind a court action to force Dow-Carbide to bear the full costs of cleaning the plant. (See stories below)<br
Needless to say, today the Bhopalis are jubilant. This evening, the city will be in a celebratory mood – a large, colourful juloos is planned. The media has set upon them, and a press conference is being held at 5 p.m. Bhopal time.

Click here for the answer to the question posed in the caption.

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