Unbelievable: Govt of India sells out

Unbelievable: Govt of India sells out

New Delhi – On Thursday 24 June, while Bhopal Survivors rallied in the streets of Delhi against the proposal by the Group of Minister on Bhopal, the Union Cabinet approved the measures. The $280 million (Rs 1265.56 crore) plan does little to bring real justice or help to the thousands still suffering in Bhopal.

Here are the ways in which this plan betrays Bhopalis:

  • The government announced new compensation for victims. It turns out that this compensation will reach less than 10% of victimes. They will dole out Rs. 7 billion among 46,000 people, leaving 525,000 people with nothing.
  • Survivors have demanded that Dow Chemical pay for proper clean up of the toxic waste it’s subsidiary left behind. Under this plan, clean up will be to non-existent indian standards by shoddy scientific organisations like NEERI. Bhopalis fear that a hasty clean up not protect them and will put another community, where they will bring the waste, in danger.
  • Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide and it’s liability in Bhopal. Yet, the Indian government has allowed Dow to continue operating in India with no consequence. The cabinet has decided today that Dow’s liability will be left to the court to decide. The Government will do nothing.
  • While the proposal does include a new extradition request for Warren Anderson, Union Carbide will not be pursued by the Government, even though it too has been charged with culpible homicide.

Read some news coverage of the announcement:
AFP: India unveils new 280-mln-dollar Bhopal disaster response
NY Times: In India, BP Response Feeds Outrage Over Bhopal

Here are more specifics on how the Cabinet is betraying Bhopalis:

Dow’s Liability

The GoM recommends that Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers and CBI may be directed to file appropriate applications/motions before the Courts concerned and request the Courts, especially the High Court, to expeditiously decide the question of liability of Dow Chemicals Company and/or any other successor to UCC/UCIL. Once this question is decided, the various legal proceedings involving Dow Chemicals Company and any other person/company found liable can be taken forward.

NOTE: They have clubbed the criminal and the civil case together in the discussion. No mention of Union Carbide Corporation’s criminal liability has been made anywhere in the paper.

Environmental Contamination

NEERI and NGRI also stated that much of the hazardous residues including the tarry residue, and much of the contaminated soil may pre-date the gas leak on 2/3.12.1984. This raises the issue that the Bhopal plant was a polluter and cause of the environmental hazards even before the gas leak and the gas leak only added to the pollution and environmental hazards.

The studies suggest that soil in the UCIL precincts is contaminated. As far as ground water quality is concerned, the existing wells in the premises have already been closed, but NEERI studied five new borewells inside the premises. These five wells studied on the premises did not reveal contamination of water. However, NEERI studies 29 wells in the neighbourhood of the UCIL premises and found that five wells were contaminated. It was asserted by NEERI and NGRI that there is no possibility of “leaching.” The soil outside the factory is generally clean.

Fate of toxic wastes:

  1. Stored hazardous wastes, including tarry residues and quantity in underground dumps: Incinerated at Pithampur by 31.12.2010
  2. Contaminated soil: 1.1 million tonnes. Secure landfill over 15 hectares at site.
  3. Water in contaminated wells should be pumped, treated and recharged, or alternatively, the contaminated wells should be sealed.
  4. 1500 MT of unsafe and contaminated corroded plant and structures. Uncontaminated waste to be sent to re-rolling mills. Contaminated waste to be buried in landfills.
  5. NEERI/NGRI expected to submit report by 30 June, 2010. IICT report submitted. After report prepared, will be subjected to peer review. Conclusions to be shared with public with a 30 day comments period.
  6. Ministry of Chemicals to file application in High Court seeking disbanding of Task force in view of GoM report.

Plan of Action of Madhya Pradesh Government

1st Phase, following components totalling  Rs. 272.75 crores will be approved and funds provided to Madhya Pradesh Government as additional central assistance on 75:25 basis

Item                                                                      Allocation
Medical rehabilitation (all hospitals except BMHT)       Rs. 33.55 crores
Economic Rehabilitation                                            Rs. 104 crore
Social Rehabilitation                                                 Rs. 85.20 crores
Providing safe drinking water by purification               Rs. 50 crores
of contaminated groundwater and other sources

Total                                                                       Rs. 272.75 crores

Additionally, GoM recommends remediation cost of approximately Rs. 310 crores to be borne by Centre. Enhanced compensation totalling Rs. 650 to Rs. 700 crores recommended by GoM.

Enhanced Compensation Proposed by Group of Ministers on Bhopal

Total Compensation Assuming No Deduction = about Rs. 1185 crores
Total Enhanced Compensation Allocated by GoM = Max of Rs. 700 crores
Category                                              Compensation
Death (5295)                             Rs. 10 lakh (less amount already received)
Permanent Disability (3199) Rs. 5 lakh (less amount already received)
Cancer cases (about 2000)  Rs. 2 lakh (less amount already received)
Total Renal Failure cases (about 1000)     Rs. 2 lakh (less amount already received)
Temporary Disability (33,672)   Rs. 1 lakh (less amount already received)
TOTAL 45,166
As %age of total gas victims that got compensation (572,000) = 8 Percent

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