US President Barack Obama’s visit to India seems to have infused a new zeal in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy survivors who organised a protest in Bhopal on Sunday demanding action against American companies allegedly responsible for the disaster.
Their campaign started gaining momentum a few days before Obama’s arrival.
They demonstrated near the now-shut Union Carbide India factory on Nov 6, the day Obama arrived in Mumbai.
The survivors staged a demonstration on Sunday at Neelam Park in Bhopal, posing as dead bodies.
The survivors have always been unhappy with the Indian government’s stand on not taking action against American companies and are now accusing the US president of adopting “double standards” on industrial disasters. Continue reading →
Widows of the world’s worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, protest in central India. They are demanding more compensation from the state government. Here’s more on the story.
Hundreds of women widowed by the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy took to the streets, demanding adequate pensions and enhanced compensation.
Balkrishna Namdev, Protester: “It’s been 26 years since the gas tragedy, and in these 26 years the condition of the gas victims’ widows has deteriorated. The Madhya Pradesh state government has failed to provide adequate compensation to these women. Even the compensation decided by the Group of Ministers is very low.”
And their frustrations don’t end there.
Balkrishna Namdev, Protester: “We also demand that all the gas victims, who used to receive about $13-thousand compensation, should now get another $6,800.” Continue reading →
Washington: The United States on Thursday said that the Bhopal gas tragedy is a closed case now. “Yes”, State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters when asked if US considers Bhopal gas tragedy as a closed case now. Later, the State Department official clarified that legally Bhopal gas case is closed.
In December 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal spewed toxic gas into surrounding neighbourhoods, killing thousands instantly and tens of thousands later. In 1999, Dow Chemical Company bought Union Carbide.
This year, a court sentenced seven Indian managers to two-year jail terms. After public outrage that the sentences were not tougher, India promised to renew efforts to extradite Union Carbide’s former boss Warren Anderson. Meanwhile, BJP and Left parties yesterday alleged that the US was trying to arm-twist India to let Dow Chemicals go scot-free with regard to its liability in the Bhopal gas tragedy.
Naxalites have decided to train their guns against Multinational Companies (MNCs) operating in India.
In a statement sent to select media houses today, the CPI-Maoists have declared that they would “rise up as a collective fist to drive out MNCs” from the country. The statement also reiterates that their mission is to wipe away the “treacherous rotten regimes” at the Centre and the states.
The Naxalites have said because mining activities by corporates have not benefitted the tribals it is justified to launch an armed struggle. However, government reports claim local leaders of the insurgent groups regularly extort hefty sums from miners to allow them to do business.
The tirade against the MNCs has come in the backdrop of the Bhopal gas tragedy verdict. Launching a scathing attack against the government and corporate India, Naxalite spokesperson Azad said, “We appeal to all democratic forces to unite, oppose and militantly resist the continuous sell-out of the country’s interests to imperialistsharks. Time is running out. Unless we act collectively against the disastrous policies of the traitorous UPA government and various state governments we cannot prevent the whole of India from becoming a Bhopal.” Continue reading →
The children demand justice: Akash Mehta (right) and his brother Gautama at 101 Park Avenue in New York
“Today we are here to appeal to Warren Anderson and summon him to the Indian court where he has been charged with culpable homicide, which is the equivalent of manslaughter in America,” Akash Viswanath Mehta said, standing outside a skyscraper on Park Avenue, which houses the law firm that represents Union Carbide.
Akash along with his older brother, Gautama, 15, were asked to leave the premises by the building owners who said it was private property owned by H J Kalikow. The media was also not allowed to film on the property.
Akash who had the 1992 summons along with a criminal chargesheet in an envelope requested that the package be delivered to the legal offices of Kelly, Drye and Warren. The owners of the building responded that there was no one in the office and the activists should make an appointment or send the summons by post.
“Do you know they represent the CEO of a corporation that is absconding from justice in Bhopal India?” said Adrianne Raff Corwin, an activist from the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. Continue reading →
There can be nothing more disgusting and deplorable. Only an Indian Prime Minister can make such a statement and get away. Imagine if the US President Obama had ever said this, even in the context of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the people of the US would have castigated him by now.
And this reminds me of what Mr P Chidambaram (in his earlier avtar) had said long ago during one his travels to the United States. Talking to some business heads and tycoons, Mr Chidambaram had reportedly said something like this: “The last time you came, you came for 200 years. This time, please plan to come for a longer duration.” This statement of his was quoted widely, and yet Parliament refused to be provoked enough to demand his resignation, and shun him for ever from public life.
P Chidambaram’s remarks assume importance in the light of the mandate he is being entrusted as the head of the Group of Ministers (GoM), which includes remediation measures at the site of the 1984 disaster. According to The Hindu (June 11, 2010): “Mr Chidambaram and Mr Kamal Nath, who were the Ministers of Finance and Commerce, respectively in 2006, endorsed the proposal that would get Dow — which now owns Union Carbide — off the hook with regard to remediation, or clean up of the contaminated site. Ironically, both Ministers are part of the GoM, leading some NGOs to allege that their inclusion represents a ‘conflict of interest’.” Continue reading →
Washington: The U.S. government virtually ruled out any further review of the investigation into the Bhopal industrial disaster of 1984, and in particular refused to discuss the extradition of American citizen Warren Anderson, CEO of the company behind the leak of poisonous gasses that led to the death of many thousands of people.
Speaking to the media here, shortly after a Bhopal court announced the conviction of seven accused, Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said: “Let me just say that we hope this verdict helps to bring some closure to the victims and their families. But I do not expect this verdict to reopen any new inquiries or anything like that.”
Mr. Blake underscored the U.S.’ unwillingness to take the matter any further at its end, saying, “On the contrary, we hope that this is going to help to bring closure.” However, he acknowledged, “With respect to Bhopal, obviously that was one of the greatest industrial tragedies and industrial accidents in human history.” He also said that the announcement made by the Indian courts was “an internal matter to India.”In response to a question whether the U.S. would be more receptive to any request for extradition of Mr. Anderson or other American officials connected with the Bhopal disaster, Mr. Blake said, “On the question of extradition – as a matter of policy we never discuss extradition, so I cannot comment on that.” Continue reading →
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal,
June 7, 2010
Terming today’s verdict and sentence against 7 officials of Union Carbide India Ltd., and the company an utter disappointment, Bhopal survivors today said they are resolved to challenge it in higher legal fora. “We feel outraged and betrayed. This is not justice. This is a travesty of justice,” said Hazra Bee of International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. “The paltry sentencing is a slap in the face of suffering Bhopal victims.” Survivors have condemned the Indian government’s “criminal negligence” in the prosecution of those accused of responsibility
for the world’s worst corporate massacre. Continue reading →
25 years ago, on the night of 2-3 December 1984, a terrible gas leak from the American multinational Union Carbide’s pesticide factory resulted, over the years, in the death of over 35,000 people and the chronic illness of over 3 lakh [300,000] people, of whom over 1 lakh were permanently maimed.
The victims continue to fight for proper compensation, rehabilitation, livelihoods, decontamination of soil and water and criminal action against those responsible. We are reprinting an article from March 2008 describing the efforts of survivors to receive justice, and the announcement of a 25th anniversary program in Bhopal sponsored by the Jan Sangarsh Morcha (Madhya Pradesh).
Survivors of Bhopal Gas Tragedy March to Demand Justice
On February 20th, more than a hundred survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy and their supporters began an 800 kilometers walk from Bhopal to New Delhi to remind the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the promises he did not keep. Organizations such as Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action are leading this “Padyatra.”They are demanding that the Prime Minister begin an empowered commission on Bhopal for medical care and rehabilitation of the Bhopal victims and their children.
Almost twenty three years after the Union Carbide gas disaster, Bhopal continues to gasp for breath. So far, authorities have failed to provide a clean and healthy environment for the thousands of citizens who inhaled the poisonous gas on December 2-3 in 1984, suffering irreversible lung damage. These survivors, mostly concentrated in Atal Ayub Nagar, JP Nagar and Arif Nagar, still use water polluted by the toxins left behind by the US multinational.
Groundwater contamination arising out of toxic waste from the Bhopal gas tragedy threatens the health of an entire new generation of the city’s inhabitants. About 8,000 tons of toxic waste still lies scattered and exposed on the premises of the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. Now, decades after the world’s worst industrial disaster, these toxins have seeped into the city’s groundwater, according to environmental studies conducted by both the government and civil society groups. Though this information was even accepted by a court in the United States, the Indian authorities have done little to address the issue. Continue reading →