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Wikileaks: “Bhopal Gas Tragedy NGOs reveal Wikileaks’ cables on Dow Chemicals; Allege Indian Govt. kowtowed to US pressure”

Original link: http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/bhopal/626/bhopal-gas-tragedy-ngos-reveal-wikileaks-cables-on-dow-chemicals/18740/

Bhopal Gas Tragedy NGOs reveal Wikileaks’ cables on Dow Chemicals; Allege Indian Govt. kowtowed to US pressure

Submitted by admin4 on 17 April 2013 – 11:01pm

By Pervez Bari, TwoCircles.net

Bhopal: Representatives of five NGOs (non-government organisations) working for the welfare of the survivors of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, have accused the Government of India of kowtowing to US Government pressure to serve the interests of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical in Bhopal.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday the representatives of the NGOs while citing recently released documents from Wikileaks’ “Kissinger Cables” said former Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia welcomed Dow investments in India and contradicted the Government of India’s stated position on Dow’s liabilities in India.

Representatives of five NGOs working for the welfare of the survivors of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy addressing Press Conference.

A cable sent by Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi Steven J White on July 27, 2007 says: “During the CEO forum event in October 2006, GOI officials including Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia stated that they welcomed further Dow investment in India and did not believe that Dow was responsible for the disaster site clean-up.”

The US Ambassador David Mulford is reported to be urging the Government of India to “drop its claims against Dow” in a cable sent on September 18, 2007. In reply Ahluwalia assures the Ambassador that the Government of India does not hold Dow responsible for the clean-up but is unable to withdraw its claims against Dow because of “active and vocal” NGOs. According to the cable Ahluwalia then advised the Ambassador to discuss the issue of Dow Chemical’s Bhopal liabilities with Finance Minister Chidambaram.

The Bhopal organisations said the available cables indicate that the Government of India has consistently short-changed Indians and Bhopalis and served the interests of Union Carbide Corporation. As early as in the 1970s, the Government of India compromised on principles related to foreign exchange to help Union Carbide retain majority control over Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL).

The organizations stated that a cable sent by Deputy Chief of Mission David T. Schneider from the US Embassy in New Delhi on February 4, 1975 shows that the Government of India allowed Union Carbide, USA to bypass the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act and obtain loans from American Exim Bank instead of an Indian financing agency. Another cable of September 11, 1975 from US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the US Embassy in India shows the support the US government gave to Union Carbide, USA in securing loans from the US Exim Bank for its Bhopal operations.

The organizations presented copy of a cable sent by the then US Ambassador in India William Saxbe on April 20, 1976 that expresses satisfaction at the dilution of FERA guidelines so that Union Carbide can continue to hold majority stakes in its Indian subsidiary.

The representatives of five organizations – Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Children against Dow/Carbide and Bhopal Group for Information & Action stated that the Wikileaks documents highlight the historical roots of the continuing injustice in the case of the world’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal. They said that the injustice in Bhopal is being perpetuated by the support of the US and Indian government to Union Carbide and Dow Chemical as well as that by traitors such as Kamal Nath, Chidambaram and Ahluwalia.

It may be recalled here that on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory had spewed poisonous Methyl Iso-cyanate gas whereby 3000 people had perished virtually instantly and over the years more than 25000 have kissed death and the sad saga is still continuing uninterruptedly. About half a million are suffering from the side effects of the poisonous gas and several thousand people have been maimed for life.



A cartoon on display of Uncle Sam controlling Indian high profile leaders and officials at the venue of Press Conference.

Meanwhile, the details of the extracts from Wikileaks are as follows:-

EXTRACTS FROM WIKILEAKS

Date: February 4 1975
Sub: Union Carbide Application for Exim Loans
From: US Embassy, New Delhi, India
To: Department of State, United States of America
URL: https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1975NEWDE01606_b.html
Extract: AS SEEN FROM THE GOI POINT OF VIEW THE ISSUE IS ONE OF PRINCIPLE AND IT HAS ALREADY AGREED TO COMPROMISES NOT USUALLY AVAIL- ABLE TO INDIAN BORROWERS

Date: SEPTEMBER 25 1975
Sub: Indo-US Relations: Atmospherics: Positive Vibrations
From: US Embassy, New Delhi, India
To: Department of State, United States of America
URL: https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1975NEWDE12918_b.html
Extract: We are trying to take advantage of the opening provided by Kaul’s interest in solving economic problems by asking for finance action to resolve a large variety of problems such as the fertilizer arbitration case, remittance delays, Pan Am and TWA problems and pending investment proposals such as Union Carbide and national starch as well as an easing of the more onerous FERA guidelines. (as this cable was being prepared union carbide telephoned to say that its proposal had been suddenly approved after 6 months of waiting.) we hope to get more results. The “success stories” so far relate to GOI movement on the north Vietnam problem, a noticeable easing of “fly Indian” restrictions on Indians travelling on USG programs and union carbide.

Date: JANUARY 5, 1976
Sub: Press Release on EXIMBANK Credit to India
From: Department of State, United States of America India
To: US Embassy, New Delhi
URL: https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1976STATE001679_b.html
Extract: The Export-Import Bank of the United States has authorized a direct credit of dol1,260,000 to Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), to support a dol2.8 million sale of US equipment and services required for the construction of a plant to produce insecticides and other agricultural chemicals. The plant will be built at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, for the production of methyl-isocyanate based pesticides. us purchases will include reactors, distillation towers, heat unclassified un-classified page 02 state 001679 exchangers, centrifuges, filters, dryers, valves, control instrumentation, safety equipment. us suppliers will include Vulcan manufacturing company of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Gould pumps inc., of Seneca fall, New York, among others.

Date: APRIL 20 1976
Sub: Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) Guidelines amended
From: US Embassy, New Delhi, India
To: Department of State, United States of America
URL: https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1976NEWDE05722_b.html
Extract: the earlier guidelines had created problems for the goi in dealing with the cases of multi-product companies such as union carbide, phillips of the netherlands, imperial chemical industries and other whose contribution to indian industrial development and exports was vital but who could not match the strict criteria under the old guidelines and, at the same time, were unwilling to come down to a 40 percent foreign equity position. foreign capital is now assured of a reasonable chance to retain majority holding and management control for investment in india under conditions which, most foreign businessmen feel, are not unduly restrictive

Date: JULY 27, 2007
Sub: New Delhi Weekly ECON Office Highlights
From: US Embassy, New Delhi, India
To: Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of the Treasury, Federal Aviation Administration, India Chennai, India Kolkata, India Mumbai
URL: https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/07NEWDELHI3429_a.html
Extract: During the CEO Forum event in October 2006, GOI officials including Commerce Minister Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia stated that they welcomed further Dow investment in India and did not believe that Dow was responsible for the disaster site clean-up.

Date: SEPTEMBER 18, 2007:
Sub: Ambassador Discusses CEO Forum Issues with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Ahluwalia
From: US Embassy, New Delhi, India
To: Department of Commerce | Department of Energy | Department of State | Department of the Treasury | India Chennai | India Kolkata | India Mumbai
URL: https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/07NEWDELHI4272_a.html
Extract: The Ambassador also cited the GOI’s continued third party claims against Dow Chemical in the ongoing Bhopal land reclamation lawsuit as a further impediment by Dow and others to invest in India, and he asked that the GOI drop its claims against Dow. Ahluwalia took the Ambassador’s points on McDermott, noting the importance of finally putting the issue to rest. On Dow, he said that the GOI does not understand Dow’s concern about future civil or criminal liability since the GOI third-party claims do not suggest a GOI presumption that Dow is responsible for the cleanup.
The GOI’s problem is that the NGOs are very active and vocal in this case, and it is very difficult for the Government to now drop its claims against Dow. The GOI was hoping for a quick resolution of the case which would have settled the issue, but Dow prevented this by asking for a stay in the proceedings. Ahluwalia noted that the issue of whether a company like Dow can be held liable for the actions of another company solely on the basis of acquiring that company after the culpable activity occurred is an important and novel legal issue in India that needs to be resolved. Ahluwalia recommended that the Ambassador discuss the issue with Finance Minister Chidambaram – a noted jurist. (pervezbari@eth.net)

http://twocircles.net/2013apr17/bhopal_gas_tragedy_ngos_reveal_wikileaks_cables_dow_chemicals_allege_indian_govt_kowtowed_

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Govt of India follows Union Carbide’s suggestions instead of ICMR findings in giving compensation

Press Statement                                                                        23-July-2011

At a press conference today five organizations working for the victims of the December ‘84 Union Carbide disaster accused the central and state governments of downplaying the damage caused by the American company in the curative petitions filed in the Supreme Court. The organizations demanded that in place of Rs 3,000-6,000 crores the government should ask Union Carbide and its current owner Dow Chemical to pay over Rs 37,000 crores for deaths and personal injuries. The organizations stated that they will start agitations in support of this demand from July 25.

The organizations said that the injury categories assigned to the victims were unscientific and without basis and demanded that the government seek at least Rs 6 lakhs as compensation per victim from Union Carbide.

Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that recently their organizations have obtained TOP SECRET DOCUMENTS that show that Union Carbide was proposing a settlement within three months of the disaster. He said that because of its collusion with the American company, the Indian government introduced injury categories and later paid the minimum amount of Rs 25,000 as compensation to 94% of the victims with lifelong injuries by arbitrarily assigning them temporary injury category. Satinath said that Union Carbide had proposed payment of Rs 1 lakh for each death and six years later this is the amount that the government actually paid the Bhopal victims.

Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that on the basis of the figures published by the government’s apex medical research organization, Indian Council of Medical Research, at least 20,0000 people have died till 2009. He said that ICMR’s research shows that between 1984 and 1989 there were 3500 spontaneous abortions as a result of gas exposure and these need to be included in counting disaster related loss of life. Namdeo said that in the curative petition filed in the Supreme Court, the government has gone against the findings of its own research agency and presented a ridiculously low figure of 5295 deaths as a consequence of the disaster. See attached Tables on Compensation and Categories.

Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh who is involved with rehabilitation of children of gas affected parents with congenital malformations, said that in the curative petition the government has not asked for any compensation for damages caused to the next generation of victims. She said that studies published in international scientific journals such as the Journal of American Medical Association and the American Journal of Industrial Medicine show that the poisons of Union Carbide have affected the next generation too. Rashida Bee pointed out that in October 1991 the Supreme Court had directed the Indian government to provide medical insurance coverage to the next generation of victims but this order remains to be implemented.

The organizations stated that the basis of the curative petitions filed by the central and state governments is that the figures of death and injury presented in 1989 were not correct. However these figures have not been corrected in the current curative petition so that the Supreme Court cannot provide justice to the Bhopal victims even if it wants to. The organization said that for the last one year they have been writing to the Prime Minister and Group of Ministers on Bhopal on the specific issue of deaths and health damage caused by Union Carbide in Bhopal but they have not received any response so far.

Rashida Bi,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Nawab Khan
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Balkrishna Namdeo,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha

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

Safreen Khan
Children Against Dow Carbide

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ft.com: “Convicted Mahindra retains M&M seat”

August 2, 2010 6:57 pm

Convicted Mahindra retains M&M seat

Shareholders of Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian industrial conglomerate, have re-elected Keshub Mahindra, a revered business elder, as the company’s chairman in spite of his conviction over his role in the Bhopal gas disaster.

In July, 86-year-old Mr Mahindra, formerly the non-executive chairman of Union Carbide’s Indian subsidiary, was the most senior executive to be convicted of negligence in a court ruling over the industrial accident at the company’s Bhopal pesticide plant in1984.

He and six others face a two-year jail sentence and a fine of Rs100,000 ($2,000) for one of the world’s worst industrial accidents that killed more than 23,000 people. He is on bail and has appealed against the judgment, handed down in Bhopal on 7 June.

Continue reading ft.com: “Convicted Mahindra retains M&M seat”

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In 1984 the US rescued Union Carbide’s Warren Anderson – and now dares vilify BP’s Tony Hayward

BY JOHN ELLIOTT. I was there in Bhopal on December 7,1984, when Warren Anderson, then the chairman of Union Carbide, was whisked away from the stricken city to Delhi and back to the US – and we all knew that it was happening with the help of Rajiv Gandhi, then India’s prime minister.

Since then Anderson has been protected by the US business-political establishment from being extradited to India to answer for the appalling human and environmental damage wrought by his company’s gas leak in Bhopal a few days earlier. That was one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, leading to the death of over 5,000 people and continuing ill-health of over 500,000. (See my last visit and report six months ago).

Now that same American establishment that has protected Anderson has been pillorying Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, following BP’s oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The tirade has been led by President Barack Obama, who has been behaving like a spoiled child for the past 50 or so days, casting around for someone to blame when it is his own officials who are primarily at fault.

The wrecked Bhopal plant, Nov 2009

These two man-made catastrophes have generated mega outbursts of irrational media coverage in India and the US in the past week, both fuelled by political cant.

In Delhi, politicians and media have been in a frenzy over the Bhopal gas leak following a court judgement last Monday that eight Indian former Union Carbide executives should serve two-year prison sentences and be fined about $2,000 (subject to appeals that could take years).

In neither case are the main political players really focussing on the primary issues – the appalling damage and threat to the environment in the Gulf, and health problems in Bhopal where thousands of people have suffered for over 25 years.

In both cases it is the US that is making sure its interest are protected. On Bhopal, Anderson was airlifted out of India when he could have been detained, and has been protected ever since by the American business-political establishment. On the Gulf spill, it is America that has decided that BP and Hayward, not its own officials and companies, should be the target for abuse and penalties.

“Whose ass to kick?”

Obama is frightened politically about the damage the spill will do to him and the Democrats. Consequently, he has been stoking anti-BP sentiment instead of steadying it, when the real culprits are officials in various US government organisations that for years have allowed oil companies to negotiate exceptions on environmental and safety procedures. The New York Times explained this on June 6. It started by talking about the managerial muddle on the BP rig, with unclear lines of authority and control, but it then went on to report how US officials had allowed the catastrophic situation to develop. :

“Deepwater rigs operate under an ad hoc system of exceptions. The deeper the water, the further the exceptions stretch, not just from federal guidelines but also often from company policy. So, for example, when BP officials first set their sights on extracting the oily riches under what is known as Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico, they asked for and received permission from federal regulators to exempt the drilling project from federal law that requires a rigorous type of environmental review, internal documents and federal records indicate.”

So when Obama said last week that he wanted to know “whose ass to kick”, the answer should have been American officials in the regulatory authorities. Sure, BP is massively responsible for what has happened, but for Obama to have personally attacked its chief executive, Tony Hayward, is mean and pathetic – and the president has ended up demeaning himself.

On Bhopal, the court sentences passed on the eight men are of course ridiculously small – and 25 years late. But the Indian media, egged on by politicians, has gone off chasing who it was who allowed Anderson to escape instead of focusing on Indian and Bhopal authorities that allowed a potentially unsafe chemical plant to be built so near the city, then allowed slum housing to mushroom nearby, and then failed to carry out regulatory checks.

Of the eight, the only well-known figure is Keshub Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra, one of the most respected and “clean” Indian groups. He was non-executive chairman of Union Carbide India at a time when such posts had no real corporate responsibility and were mainly involved in helping the company operate in the country. The other seven (including one who has died) were victims of an American management that had effectively walked away from the investment and wanted to dump it.

On the escape of Anderson, I was there in Bhopal at the time – December 7, 1984 – and later learned about what happened from both government and company sources.

Arjun Singh, then the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal is the state capital) heard that Anderson was flying into Bhopal from Bombay on a flight that stopped in Indore. So he ordered his police to the airport without (fearing leaks) telling them why, till the plane had taken off from Indore, when he told them Anderson should be arrested on arrival.

Anderson had planned his visit as some sort of mercy and goodwill mission. As the plane landed in Bhopal, he looked out of the cabin window and saw the police cars, so said to Mahindra, who was sitting beside him, how good it was of the state government to provide him with an escort.

He was immediately arrested and taken to the Union Carbide guest house on a hill overlooking the city. Along with a crowd of Indian and foreign journalists, I stood that afternoon at the guest house’s front gates waiting for Anderson to emerge. Shame on us all, he was whisked out of the back gate without most of us seeing him, and was released on bail after being held for just six hours. He was put on a government plane to Delhi, and then flew to the US.

Although we did not know that afternoon whether Anderson was being flown to Delhi to be detained there, we had no doubt that Singh, a leading Congress politician, was acting on the orders of – or at least with the approval of Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress prime minister. The government is now saying that Singh sent Anderson out of Bhopal because he feared civil unrest if the executive was seen in the city. But that does not explain why, presumably at the behest of the US, Anderson was then allowed to leave the country.

But whether Singh or Gandhi were wrong to have done that is not now relevent. The real crime has been committed by the Indian and American authorities, and by Union Carbide and Dow which has now taken over the company, by not punishing the right people and cleaning up the health hazards in Bhopal.

Now there’s a cause where President Obama could usefully “kick ass”.

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