Tag Archives: New York District Court

"Via Hand Delivery" – the text of the Government of India's letter to the US District Court, New York

June 28, 2004

VIA HAND DELIVERY
United States District Judge John F Keenan
United States District Court
Southern District of New York
500 Pearl Street,
New York, New York 100007-1312

Re : Bano et al v. Union Carbide 99 Civ. 11329 [JFK]

TO THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT :

On behalf of the Union of India and as its duly authorized consular representative in the United States of America, we submit this letter in the above, referenced matter to present the official position of the sovereign government of India with regard to environmental remediation of the land and premises formerly occupied by the Union carbide plant in Bhopal, India.

The union of India submits that neither the Madhya Pradesh State Government or its instrumentalities nor the Union of India has any objection to any such relief for environmental remediation of the former Union Carbide plant premises in Bhopal being ordered or directed by a competent

Keenan
The only picture we can find of the Honorable Justice John Keenan
court or tribunal of the United States. Further, the Union of India and the Madhya Pradesh State Government and their respective instrumentalities will cooperate with any such relief as and when issued by the United States District Court. The Union of India will monitor and supervise such environmental remediation including decommissioning of plant and machinery, remediation / disposal of contaminated soil and appropriate disposal of toxic chemicals and wastes on the plant site by Union Carbide in order to ensure that it is undertaken in compliance with the norms parameters laid down by a specific organization of the Government of India, the Central Pollution Control Board, for that purpose.

Union Carbide will also be held responsible for any loss/damages caused to life or property in the process of remediation and disposal. Pursuant to the “polluter pays” principle recognized by both the United States and India, Union Carbide should bear all of the financial burden and cost for the purpose of environmental clean up and remediation. The Union of India and the State Government of Madhya Pradesh shall not bear any financial burden for this purpose.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing in this official statement on behalf of the Union of India may be construed or read, by implication or otherwise, as an intention to submit either the Union of India or the Madhya Pradesh Government to the jurisdiction of the United State Government of Madhya Pradesh are entitled to sovereign immunity under international law and do not waive those immunities by this submission.

In addition, nothing in this submission should be construed, by implication or otherwise, to convey any authority to plaintiff in the above matter to assert or pursue claims on behalf of the Union of India or State Government of Madhya Pradesh nor shall the plaintiffs in the above referenced matter be entitled, by virtue of this submission, to assert or pursue any claims against either the Union of India or the Madhya Pradesh Government in the litigation or before the US District Court.

Finally, it is the official position of the Union of India that the previous settlement of claims concerning the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster between Union Carbide and Union of India has no legal bearing on or relation whatsoever to the environmental contamination issue raised in the case at bar. Nothing in this submission should be construed, by implication or otherwise, as an 8intention to reopen or question the validity of that previous settlement.

Accordingly, the Union of India hereby formally urges the US District Court to order such relief, as required by the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit in this matter.

Respectfully submitted
Consul General of India
Consulate General of India
3 East, 64th Street
New York, New York 10021-7097

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Government of India issues historic order, satyagrahis end fast

INDIAN GOVERNMENT BOWS TO PRESSURE, AGREES TO SUBMIT STATEMENT TO U.S. COURT IN THE UNION CARBIDE-BHOPAL CONTAMINATION CLEAN UP CASE.

New Delhi, June 23, 2004: Six days after three Bhopal activists began their hunger strike, the Government of India finally bowed to pressure and agreed to submit a statement to the New York District Court in the Bhopal contamination clean up case. This statement now has to reach the US Court before the deadline of June 30th. The activists have been assured that the New York Court has already been alerted by the Indian government.

Upon receiving this communication from the Prime Minister’s Office, the three activists who have been on a hunger strike since June 18th broke their fast in the presence of many trade union leaders and supporters including Swami Agnivesh.

“This statement brings us one step closer to a historic order by the US Court directing Union Carbide to clean up the toxic contamination in and around the factory premises in Bhopal,” said Satinath Sarangi, ICJB activist and one of those on hunger strike. “Such an Order will not only uphold the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle, but will set a precedence to hold multinational companies accountable in their home country for their actions abroad.”

More than 20,000 people from over 14 bastis have been affected by the serious contamination emanating from the tonnes of toxic chemicals and chemical waste dumped in and around the Union Carbide factory premises. They, and their supporters from around the world, now expect the US District Court to order Union Carbide to clean up the contamination at Bhopal to the best global standards possible.

“We hope that the Prime Minister who intervened in this matter will show the same kind of sensitivity and alacrity in dealing with other pending issues in Bhopal and in holding Union Carbide’s new owner Dow Chemicals liable for the pending issues in Bhopal. These include criminal justice as well as economic and medical rehabilitation issues of the gas leak-affected and contamination-affected people of Bhopal”, said Rasheeda Bi, winner of the Goldman Prize 2004, who has also been on hunger strike since June 18th along with Mr Shahid Noor. Mr Noor, orphaned by the gas leak in 1984, currently runs Bhopal Ki Awaaz, an organization for similarly orphaned persons.

Thousands of petition mails and faxes have been sent from the USA and many other countries including India to the concerned ministries and the Prime Minister urging them to act fast, and make good the opportunity provided by the US Court. Hundreds of Bhopal supporters who have also been on hunger strike in solidarity with the three activists fasting at Jantar Mantar, celebrated the good news by breaking their fast.

HUGE THANKS TO ALL WHO SENT EMAILS AND FAXES AND THOSE WHO JOINED THE HUNGER STRIKE AROUND THE WORLD.

For more information on the campaign, and to join the petition campaign, please visit:

https://www.bhopal.net, http://www.greenpeaceindia.org or http://www.studentsforbhopal.org

For further information:
Ms Rasheeda Bi, Mr Shahid Noor and Mr Satinath Sarangi: +91-98-102-02105 or +91-755-3132298; Ms Anuradha Saibaba on + 91-98-119-03172; Ms Vinuta Gopal on +91-98-455-35418 or Ms Kavitha Kuruganti on +91-80-36882103

You can send an email to the following addresses:

vgopal@dialb.greenpeace.org; campaigns@theothermedia.org; kavitha_kuruganti@yahoo.com
agniveshpic.jpg
Swami Agnivesh, one of many leaders who came to be with the Satyagrahis when they ended their fast earlier today in New Delhi.

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Major trade unions extend their support to the Bhopal activists on hunger strike and pledge to take up the matter with the Prime Minister tomorrow.

New Delhi, June 22, 2004:With just seven days left for the Union Government to send a positive communication to the US District Court in the Bhopal contamination clean up case , several major trade unions of India have decided to swing into action. They have pledged to raise this matter with the Prime Minister of India in a meeting tomorrow. The trade unions which extend their solidarity include Hind Mazdoor Sabha [HMS], All India Federation of Trade Unions [AIFTU], National Trade Union Initiative [NTUI], All India Agricultural Workers Union [AIAWU], All India Central Council of Trade Unions [AACCTU], All India Agricultural Labour Association [AIALA], National Federation of Indian Women [NFIW] of All India Trade Union Congress [AITUC].

“This is a matter of utmost importance. By sending this communication to the US Court, the government has everything to gain and nothing to lose”, felt the trade union representatives, referring to the enormous costs involved in the clean up, as well as the technological expertise required for remediation of the site.

This morning, the three hunger strikers, Ms Rasheeda Bi, Mr Shahid Noor and Mr Satinath Sarangi, who are in the fifth day of their indefinite fast to press the Indian government to act immediately, addressed representatives of various trade unions and appraised them about the inaction by the Indian government.

“After the meeting with the trade union representatives, it was heartening to see that many like-minded groups believe that this letter to the US Court should have been sent by the Indian government by now. The contaminated communities have suffered for many years now and the toxic mess needs to be cleaned up immediately. Given that this is a unique opportunity to get the polluter to pay, it is inexplicable why the Indian government should delay sending this letter’, remarked Shahid Noor who has been on a fast since June 18th. Shahid was orphaned by the gas leak in 1984 and heads an organisation of people orphaned by the disaster called Bhopal ki Awaaz.

The delegation of Bhopal activists also met with Mr Oscar Fernandes who assured them that he had written to all three ministries concerned, Law, Environment and Chemicals & Fertilisers, requesting them to act in time. Others who spoke with the hunger strikers and extended support today included M C Mehta, Goldman Prize Winner and Amarjeet Kaur of All India Trade Union Congress. At the time of filing of this update, the Law Ministry officials had not yet drafted any communication clarifying their stand.

For more information on the campaign, please visit:

https://www.bhopal.net or http://www.greenpeaceindia.org or http://www.studentsforbhopal.org

Join the petition campaign and send a webfax

You can also contact the following persons or numbers for more information:

Ms Rasheeda Bi, Mr Shahid Noor and Mr Satinath Sarangi, the three hungerstrikers on the following mobile numbers: +91-98-102-02105 or +91-755-3132298; Ms Anuradha Saibaba on + 91-98-119 -03172 or Ms Vinuta Gopal on +91-98-455-35418 or Ms Kavitha Kuruganti on +91-80-36882103

You can send an email to the following addresses:

vgopal@dialb.greenpeace.org; campaigns@theothermedia.org; kavitha_kuruganti@yahoo.com

1. On March 17th 2004, a New York District Court provided a unique opportunity to clean up of toxic contamination in and around the Union Carbide factory premises, by ruling that if the Indian government or Madhya Pradesh government urges the US Court to order such relief before June 30th 2004, then the lower court can order Union Carbide to clean up the abandoned factory site and its surroundings. This is in the Sajida Bano et al vs Union Carbide and Warren Anderson case.
manmohansingh.jpg
Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. Campaigners remain quietly hopeful that his new government will act to end the suffering of thousands of Bhopalis

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While The Law Ministry Dithers, Leading Legal Luminaries and Political Stalwarts Unanimously Opine that it is a “Golden Opportunity” that shouldn’t be missed: Hunger Strike Without Water by Bhopal Activists Enters Day 3

New Delhi, June 20, 2004: As the last day for the Indian Government to send a letter to the US Federal Court in New York for clean up of toxic contamination in and around its factory in Bhopal draws closer [June 30th being the deadline], the Law Ministry is stalling progress on this matter by mixing up clearly distinct issues. of claims arising out of the gas leak and claims related to contamination in and around the Union Carbide factory. The Law Ministry opines that all claims related to Bhopal have been addressed in the Supreme Court settlement case of 1989 with Union Carbide Corporation.
Meanwhile, many legal experts in India have come forward to express their strong disagreement with the Law Ministry’s stand. “There are no legal hurdles before the Indian government in submitting …. a letter before the concerned US Court”, confirms Justice V R Krishna Iyer, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Many other legal luminaries like Indira Jaisingh, M C Mehta, Rajeev Dhavan, Usha Ramanathan etc., concur with Mr Krishna Iyer. In fact, the US Court itself has come up with its March 17th landmark ruling [saying that Union Carbide can be ordered to clean up its abandoned factory site if the Indian government or the State of Madhya Pradesh …..urges the Court to order such relief], after brushing aside Union Carbide’s own stand on the matter which was similar to that of the Indian Law Ministry.

As the countdown for the Indian Government to send its letter stands at Day 10, the indefinite hunger strike without water by three Bhopal activists including the Goldman award winner of 2004 Ms Rasheeda Bi entered Day 3. “We fail to understand why the Law Ministry should side with Union Carbide when the Supreme Court has long back upheld the Polluter Pays principle in this country”, says Rasheeda Bi. “In any case, the government has neither the technology nor the resources to clean up the contamination in and around the premises. How much more longer should the people of Bhopal continue to suffer Union Carbide’s misdeeds?” she asks. The other two activists joining her in the hunger strike include Mr Shahid Noor who was orphaned because of the gas leak disaster and runs an organisation for other youngsters orphaned like him, and Mr Satinath Sarangi, Member, Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
Doctors attending on the three hunger strikers have expressed serious concern over the rapid deterioration of the health of the activists considering that they are going without water and food in the hot and humid summer of Delhi. They warned that the dehydration would set in soon, and have advised that the activists should discontinue their fast immediately.
Many leading personalities joined hands with the Bhopal activists in urging the Government of India to act fast and make good this opportunity presented by the US Court. Swami Agnivesh was with them when they began their hunger strike on June 18th, along with more than 400 supporters from Bhopal. Former Prime Minister V P Singh expressed his support and solidarity. Ms Jaya Jaitley and Ms Nirmala Deshpande were the others who visited the hunger strike site at Jantar Mantar. Comrade Varadarajan of CITU also extended his support to the cause by meeting the activists.
Mr Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Science and Technology who met the activists yesterday evening, promised to do whatever he can, while saying that as a lawyer, he also disagrees with the Law Ministry’s stand. Union Minister Mr Oscar Fernandes came to meet the hunger strikers on being appraised of the situation and promised that he would take up the matter with the Law Ministry as well as the legal unit of the Congress party.
Even as efforts to move the Law Ministry to change its opinion continued, hundreds of supporters across the world have gone on a relay hunger strike to express their solidarity and to put pressure on the Indian government to put an end to the long-drawn suffering of the Bhopal survivors. Thousands of fax and email petitions have been sent to the Prime Minister of India to intervene in the matter. As the deadline for the Indian government to send a letter to the US Court approaches closer, everyone hopes that the government will at least now take the side of the Bhopal survivors, rather than the culprit multinational corporation.
For more information on the campaign, and to join the petition campaign, please visit:
https://www.bhopal.net or
http://www.greenpeaceindia.org or
http://www.studentsforbhopal.org

You can contact the following persons/numbers for more information:
Ms Rasheeda Bi, Mr Shahid Noor and Mr Satinath Sarangi – the hungerstrikers on the following mobile numbers: +91-98-102-02105 or +91-755-3132298
Ms Vinuta Gopal on +91-98-455-35418 or Ms Kavitha Kuruganti on +91-80-36882103 or Ms Anuradha Saibaba on + 91-98-119 -03172

You can send an email to the following addresses:
vgopal@dialb.greenpeace.org
justiceinbhopal@yahoo.co.in
campaigns@theothermedia.org
kavitha_kuruganti@yahoo.com

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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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