Tag Archives: Polluter Pays principle

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
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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.
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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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