FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHENNAI, 16 March, 2006
Human rights, environmental and youth groups from Tamilnadu took out a rally in support of survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal who are on an 800-km padayatra on foot to New Delhi demanding justice and a life of dignity. Representatives from pollution-impacted communities in Mettur, Cuddalore and Gummidipoondi also participated in the Chennai rally from Monroe Statue to Chepauk Guest House. A delegation of supporters from Tamilnadu will join them on the last stretch of their padayatra.
“Bhopal is of relevance to all us us. More than anything else, Bhopal exposes that the Government does not protect the poor. If the victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster have to walk 800 km to Delhi 22 years after the disaster to get their most basic demands met, what chance do we have to see our demands met for clean water, clean environment, medical assistance and compensation?”
On 10 March, members of Chennai-based youth collective “We Feel Responsible” met the Tamilnadu Governor and handed over a petition addressed to the Prime Minister with signatures collected in support of the demands of the Bhopalis. The most urgent demand in the 6- point charter of demands of the Bhopalis is the supply of piped water from Kolar reservoir in the 16 communities affected by toxic contamination of ground water. Despite a May 2004 order of the Supreme Court, the Madhya Pradesh Government has failed to provide water, and nearly 20,000 people continue to drink water containing cancer-causing chemicals.
The Bhopalis are currently in Agra and are expected to reach New Delhi by 25 March, 2006. They have sought a meeting with the Prime Minister. Depending on the response of the Central Government, the Bhopalis will decide to go on an indefinite fast at the end of their 800 kilometer long march. The four organizations : Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Bhopal ki Aawaaz will present their charter of demands to the Prime Minister.
Tamilnadu supporters of the Bhopal padayatra have echoed Bhopalis’ demand that the Government should set up a National Commission on Bhopal, with participation of survivor organisations, to provide facilities for health care, economic rehabilitation, medical research and social support. Other demands relate to the setting up of a special cell within the CBI to expedite prosecution of Union Carbide Corporation and its former chairman Warren Anderson, assessment and clean up of toxic wastes, and a ban on the Government’s purchase of Dow Chemical’s products, including the toxic pesticide Dursban. The survivors have also demanded that December 3 be declared a National Day of Mourning for victims of industrial disasters and include the disaster in educational curricula.
Human Rights – Tamilnadu Initiative
Penn Thozhilalar Sangam (Women Workers Association)
Corporate Accountability Desk
Tamilnadu Dalit Women’s Movement
Alliance for People’s Movement
Tamilnadu Women’s Forum
We Feel Responsible – A Youth Initiative
Pond’s HLL Ex-employees Association
Consumer Action Group
Tamilnadu Meenavar Munnetra Sangam
South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association
Fisher Movements Coordination of Tamilnadu & Pondicherry
Manali Youth Welfare Association
Annai Sarada Devi Trust
West Konur Farmers Welfare Association
Tamilnadu Women’s Collective
Veeranganai Women’s Organisation
Tamilnadu Green Movement
Tamilnadu Environment Council
For more information, contact:
Nityanand Jayaraman. 9444082401. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
C/o International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
H19/4 Gangai Street, Kalakshetra Colony, Chennai 600 090
Visit: www.bhopal.net and http://www.studentsforbhopal.org/MarchToDelhi.htm