Bhopal protesters knock on Dow Chemical’s door in Mumbai – Videos


Author(s):
Akshay Deshmane
Issue Date:
2013-4-10

Demand clean up of toxins in soil and water around Union Carbide plant, production of absconding corporation officials before Indian court

image

Pic- Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Godrej Business District Pirojshahnagar in the eastern Mumbai suburb of Vikhroli had some unusual visitors on Tuesday. They were not well-heeled business professionals but hundreds of poor women, children and men, shouting slogans and carrying placards and posters which denounced Dow Chemical International Private Limited for its apathy towards the victims and survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Nearly 200 protesters from Bhopal who had survived the Bhopal gas disaster, including many children born after the accident who are experiencing severe health complications due to toxic contamination in the erstwhile plant’s vicinity, demonstrated outside the office of Dow Chemical, demanding that its parent company in USA clean up toxic contamination from soil and ground water in and around Union Carbide’s abandoned factory. The protesters also demanded from Dow Chemical that owns Union Carbide produce the absconding corporation charged with culpable homicide before the Bhopal court [1].

Having received advance intimation about the arrival of protesters, the company officials had made additional security arrangements and called in the police. “Officials from our senior management had asked us to reinforce our security with additional personnel, add more personnel to the Godrej’s private security that looks after security in the premises and called in the police also. This helped in preventing the protesters from entering the building. Only a small delegation of five protesters was allowed in to meet the officials at the company’s reception briefly and by 2-2:30 pm they had left,” said a member of Dow’s private security.

Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action was one of the five members who went in for the meeting. “We gave them our memorandum of demands and they responded saying that the senior management of the company will be informed about it but gave no time frame in which the demands will be addressed or responded to,” said Sarangi.

Demonstrators included women and children who have chronic illnesses from drinking local ground water contaminated with toxic chemicals and heavy metals [2]  from hazardous wastes recklessly dumped by Union Carbide. The protesters expressed dismay over Dow Chemical’s continued business in hazardous chemicals in India.

Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that following its takeover of Union Carbide in 2001, Dow Chemical is responsible for the horrific birth defects and other health damages caused due to ground water contamination.

Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha pointed out that Dow Chemicals is yet to pay additional compensation for deaths and health damage caused by the Dow subsidiary in the December 1984 gas disaster. “In 1989, Union Carbide had paid compensation only for 3,828 deaths whereas the total number of deaths has crossed 25, 000. Likewise, compensation has been paid for injuries to 102,000 persons while the actual number of persons injured by the disaster according to the state and Central governments is 568, 293.” (see Bhopal gas leak: curative petition downplays number of deaths[3]; SC refuses to restore stiffer charges for Bhopal disaster accused [4] and Union Carbide refuses more compensation to Bhopal gas leak victims [5]).

For those affected by the accident, there may be some hope for justice. Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action informed that in response to her organisation’s application, the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal will soon summon the Dow Chemical’s authorized representative from USA and ask it to show cause why it does not produce its full subsidiary Union Carbide that is absconding from charges of culpable homicide for the last 21 years.

 


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/bhopal-protesters-knock-dow-chemicals-door-mumbai
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Bhopal gas tragedy survivors stage demonstration in Mumbai


STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu April 1o, 2013

  • CALL FOR LIABILITY: More than 200 survivors of the Bhopl gas disaster protest at the office of Dow Chemical International Private Ltd at Vikhroli in Mumbai on Tuesday. Photo: Special Arrangement
    CALL FOR LIABILITY: More than 200 survivors of the Bhopl gas disaster protest at the office of Dow Chemical International Private Ltd at Vikhroli in Mumbai on Tuesday. Photo: Special Arrangement
  • Police trying to prevent protesters from entering the office. Photo: Special Arrangement
    thPolice trying to prevent protesters from entering the office. Photo: Special Arrangement

Around 200 survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster held demonstrations in front of the Dow Chemical’s office in Vikroli in suburban Mumbai on Tuesday, demanding that the company take up the criminal, civilian and environmental liability of Union Carbide, which they now own.

The demonstrators said they were protesting against Dow Chemical’s continuing business in hazardous chemicals when the survivors were dying in Bhopal and the next generation was facing health problems.

Earlier, the protesters stormed the Godrej compound, where the office of the company is situated. “From the year 2000, we have been making it clear to Dow Chemicals that if they decide to buy Union Carbide, they will have to take all the liabilities too,” said Satinath Sarangi who led the demonstrations. “Cleaning toxic material is one of them and they are simply ignoring that.”

Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said women and children were suffering from chronic illnesses after drinking contaminated ground water. “Dow Chemical, since it has taken over the company, is now directly responsible for this and we have come here to make them realise that.”

Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morch said that the Union Carbide in 1989 had paid compensation only for 3828 deaths, whereas the total number of deaths had crossed 25,000. “Apart from that, the actual number of people injured in the tragedy according to the government is 5,68,293, but the company has paid compensation to only 1,02,000. They are simply not bothered about the rest.”

The demonstrators submitted a charter of demands to the representatives of Dow Chemicals.

In spite of repeated attempts, the company refused to comment.

PRESS RELEASE- Hundreds of Survivors of Bhopal gas disaster protest at Dow Chemical Mumbai


Press Statement

April 9, 2013

 

200 survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster , alongwith 100 plus activists from Mumbai today demonstrated at the office of Dow Chemical International Private Ltd. at Vikhroli demanding that its parent company in USA clean up toxic contamination from soil and ground water in and around Union Carbide’s abandoned factory. The protestors also demanded that Dow Chemical that owns Union Carbide, USA produce the absconding corporation charged with culpable homicide in the Bhopal court.

 

The survivors said that they were protesting against Dow Chemical’s business in hazardous chemicals in India while the disaster was still continuing in Bhopal with mounting deaths among the survivors and health problems in the next generation.

 

The demonstrators included women and children who have chronic illnesses from drinking local ground water contaminated with toxic chemicals and heavy metals from hazardous wastes recklessly dumped by Union Carbide. Mr. Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that following its take over of Union Carbide in 2001, Dow Chemical is responsible for the horrific birth defects and other health damages caused due to ground water contamination.

 

Mr. Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that Dow Chemical remains to pay additional compensation for the deaths and health damages caused by its subsidiary through the December 1984 gas disaster. He said that in 1989 Union Carbide had paid compensation only for 3, 828 deaths whereas the total number of deaths has crossed 25, 000. Likewise, Union Carbide has paid compensation for injuries to 1,02, 000 persons whereas the actual number of persons injured by the disaster according to the state and central governments is 5,68, 293.

 

Ms. Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that in response to her organization’s application the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal will soon be summoning Dow Chemical’s authorized representative from USA and ask them to show cause why it does not produce its 100 % subsidiary Union Carbide that is absconding from charges of culpable homicide for the last 21 years.

 

Holding a banner saying “No justice in Bhopal, No business in India” Safreen Khan of Children against Dow/Carbide said that the next generation of the survivors of the Bhopal disaster is now ready to carry on with the struggle initiated by their parents. She said that Dow Chemical is facing criminal charges of bribing officials in the central agricultural ministry and has been blacklisted by the central government.

 

 

 

Rashida Bi,

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

94256 88215

Nawab Khan,

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

9302792493

Balkrishna Namdeo,

Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha

9826345423

Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,

Bhopal Group for Information and Action

9826167369

Safreen Khan

Children Against Dow Carbide

 

Contact : c/o 44, Sant Kanwar Ram Nagar, Berasia Road, Bhopal Email: justiceinbhopal@yahoo.co.in

 

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#India-More than reforms, it is revolution which is required


CLAUDE ARPI | Agency: DNA | Monday, December 31, 2012

During the last few days, innumerable experts have commented on or analysed the gang rape that triggered one of the largest mass protests the capital has witnessed in recent years.

With the death of the 23-year-old woman after her doubtful transfer to a Singapore ‘specialty’ hospital, the pressure on the government is mounting.

The protesters have many demands, including removal of Neeraj Kumar, the Delhi Police Commissioner, immediate compensation for rape victims; registration of FIRs for all complaints relating to rape, sexual harassment and crimes against women and safety for women in public transport.

All this is good, but will it solve the problem?

Having lived in India for the past 40 years and closely watched the Indian society, I would like to offer a comment, which seems to me very basic.

Many have spoken of ‘fast-track’ tribunals for the rapists. This demand is an admission in itself: there is no justice in India today.

There are many reasons why it is so. To put the blame entirely on the judiciary would be wrong. As for many other issues, it appears that the system has somewhere gone berserk, and only a revolution could change the status quo.

Hundreds of examples of justice being denied can be cited, but in the end, the outcome remains the same.

The Bofors has been one of the main scandals in modern India. The then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was suspected to have benefitted of kickbacks fromBofors to win a bid to supply 155 mm field Howitzers for the Indian Army. BoforsAB, a Swedish firm, was the main culprit.

The scam led to the defeat of the Congress in the November 1989 general elections.

Ottavio Quattrocchi, the middleman associated with the scandal, was an Italian businessman representing the petrochemicals firm Snamprogetti in India. He was reportedly close to the Gandhi family.

The Delhi High Court quashed all proceedings in the case in June, 2002. The order was reversed by the Supreme Court in July, 2003.

In January 2006, it was found that the CBI had unfrozen the bank accounts ofQuattrocchi who could flee the country. In 30 years, no justice has been rendered.

Then remember the Bhopal gas tragedy, one of the world’s worst industrial disasters. On the night of December 2, 1984, an accident at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal exposed lakhs of people to methylisocyanate gas.

The death toll estimates vary between 4,000 and 8,000. In an affidavit in 2006, the government admitted that the leak caused 5,58,125 injuries.

Civil and criminal cases have been pending for decades in the Bhopal District Court. In June 2010, Warren Anderson, the UCIL chairman, and seven UCILofficials were convicted of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined about $2,000, the maximum punishment allowed by Indian law. Anderson could not be extradited and a meager compensation was paid to a few of the victims. Where is the justice?

Do you remember Harshad Mehta, the Mumbai stockbroker? He was charged with financial crimes that took place in 1992.

Cleverly exploiting loopholes in the banking system, Mehta siphoned off funds from inter-bank transactions and bought shares at a premium, triggering a rise in the Sensex. He was charged with 72 criminal offences, and more than 600 civil action suits were filed against him.

Of the criminal charges brought against him, he was only convicted of one, before his death at age 48, in 2001.

These are well-publicised cases, but there are thousands, if not lakhs, of smaller cases.

Take the case of road accidents. India has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of road casualties in the world. A government report says that in 2009, 1,25,660 people were killed in road accidents and another 5,15,458 received severe or minor injuries. It has probably increased since then.

The point is that inebriated or licenceless drivers are hardly punished and the family of the dead rarely compensated. It was reported that in Tamil Nadu, which has one of the highest number of road accidents, less than two-digit licences were withdrawn last year. No justice again.

Examples could go on.

It is unfortunate that the same thing happens for rape, sexual harassment or violence against women. More than reform, it is revolution which is required.

The street protests are perhaps a first manifestation of the ‘enough-is-enough’ popular sentiment. But the government is incapable of reading the writing on the wall.

One thing is sure, don’t expect the politicians or the judiciary to take the lead to bring more justice to the common men, it will never happen.

The author is a French-born journalist and writer

 

Bhopal-Promises broken, justice delayed


Author(s):
Moyna, Down to Earth
Issue Date:
2012-12-3

Bhopal gas tragedy survivors continue to suffer as court cases are delayed and government promises prove hollow

bhopal

Almost three decades after the Bhopal gas leak killed a few thousand people overnight, the struggle continues for its survivors. A number of issues concerning the survivors of the disaster, termed the biggest industrial accident in history, seemed close to resolution this year, but none were resolved. Provision of potable drinking water, removal and disposal of the toxic waste from the Union Carbide factory and even a strict apex court ruling requiring the government to provide full healthcare facilities to the survivors were all just promises made in government offices and court rooms.

The survivor organisations have organised numerous protests and wrote letters requesting the India government to withdraw from the Olympics sponsored by Dow Chemical [1]. In Bhopal and Delhi, hundreds of protesters have been asking the prime minister of India to explain why their plight has not improved in the past 28 years.

For officials, Bhopal has become an “emotive issue” and thus resolutions planned and proposed always failed to take off. Though there is a Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation department, most of the decisions require to be approved and executed by the Central government. The main concerns following the December 1984 disaster have been: groundwater and soil contamination, poor health facilities, incorrect count of those affected by the gas leak, disposal of the toxic waste at the Union Carbide factory site, making Dow criminally liable for the gas leak and subsequent events and lack of government involvement in the continuing litigation in the United States of America.

One positive development in 2012 was the official acknowledgement of groundwater [2] contamination around the Union Carbide factory. Despite studies by reliable organisations and laboratories [3], the Government of India and the Madhya Pradesh government have denied groundwater contamination in and around the Union Carbide factory (also see ‘The chemistry of living death’ [4]  and ‘The poison piles up’ [5]) .

Despite the apex court coming down heavily on the government and other agencies involved in providing relief to Bhopal gas leak victims, the government has failed to take any action. In August, the Supreme court, while disposing of a public interest petition ordered better health facilities for Bhopal gas victims [6], directed that standard treatment protocols be implemented and noted that public studies on the disaster-affected people need to be carried out.

The toxic waste lying at the factory premises is another major point of contention. It is to be disposed of by the Central Pollution Control Board and at the beginning of 2012, a German Company, GIZ, was called in to dispose of the waste. After a long debate between Indian authorities and the German agency, the proposal to incinerate the waste in Germany fell through [7]  (also see ‘Bhopal to Germany’ [8]). Vinod Babu, head of the hazardous waste division of the Central Pollution Control Board says: “We are working on the best solution possible to ensure proper disposal of the waste and that is why it is taking time.” He explains that the waste, disputed water contamination and other pollution caused 28 years ago has become an “emotional concern”. “We are required to keep many non-technical concerns in mind while dealing with any issue related to Bhopal gas leak and thus it takes longer than it would otherwise.”

It has been reported that the waste may now be disposed of in the sea since the site at Pithampur in Madhya pradesh—the Centre is routing for it–is controversial [9]. A senior official with the Union ministry for chemicals and petrochemicals, on condition of anonymity, says: “For 30 years, we have been trying to get rid of the waste but every time it seems like we might succeed, some activists protest for one or the other technical reasons we are unable to dispose it of.”

There seems to be no end to the delay. In October, the Madhya Pradesh High Court lifted the seven-year old stay on summoning Dow Chemical—the parent company of Union Carbide [10]. Whether the show-cause notice is ever given to Dow and whether the company actually appears in court remains to be seen. Meawnhile, the numerous cases continue to drag (see Bhopal gas leak: curative petition downplays number of deaths [11]; SC refuses to restore stiffer charges for Bhopal disaster accused [12]  and Union Carbide refuses more compensation to Bhopal gas leak victims [13]).

There has been an attempt to rework the corporate liability and bring the chemical giant Dow Chemical to book. The company has consistently denied any responsibility for the 1984 disaster. But legal experts and activists say [14] the company is hiding behind a corporate veil and is accountable  (also see ‘The Bhopal legacy: reworking corporate liability’ [15]).

The delays and postponements have been innumerable for the survivours and victims of the 28 year old disaster [16]. Rashida Bi of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh says, “I want to hope things will get better and we will not be living in the shadow of 1984 but every time some improvement is seen in the horizon, we are scared it will not come through.” Echoing her sentiments, Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha says, “The government and courts just talk. On ground, nothing ever gets done. With this kind of treatment it is very difficult to remain hopeful that things will improve at some point.”

In an attempt to bring the big corporate giant to book, activists have even filed a case in the US. But the case was dismissed for the third time in a decade by a district court earlier this year [17]. The activists appealed against this dismissal in late November.

Along with the protests and ongoing court cases to mark 28 years of the gas leak, the Bhopal survivors organisations circulated a charter of demands, titled Corporations and Governments in USA and India must ensure justice and a life of dignity for the Bhopal survivors and their children well before the fourth decade begins (see ‘Charter of demands’). It says the 25,000 people are dead and numbers are still mounting and 150,000 are battling chronic illnesses.

Survivors’ charter of demands

The charter of demands circulated by the Bhopal gas tragedy survivors’ organisations has given two years to Union Carbide and Dow Chemical to ensure that they:

  1. Cease to abscond from justice and answer, through its designated official, charges of manslaughter and grievous assault in the criminal case pending before the Bhopal District Court
  2. Respond positively to the Government of India’s petition in  the Supreme Court and make financial arrangements for compensating actual number of deaths and injuries caused as a result of the December 1984 gas disaster
  3. Set aside sufficient funds for clean up of contaminated soil and groundwater in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory and for health monitoring of the affected population

Two years for the Government of USA to ensure that:

  1. Authorised representatives of Union Carbide Corporation cease to abscond justice in Indian courts and appear in the pending criminal case arising from the disaster in Bhopal
  2. Warren Anderson former chairperson of Union Carbide is extradited from USA to answer charges of manslaughter and grievous assault in the Bhopal District Court
  3. Dow Chemical and Union Carbide pay penalties for the deaths and injuries caused by the 1984 gas disaster at rates comparable to those paid by British Petroleum for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010
  4. Dow Chemical and Union Carbide clean up the contaminated soil and ground water in and around the abandoned pesticide factory and provide for health monitoring of the affected population

Two years to the Government of India to ensure that:

  1. Dow Chemical is not allowed to make any investments in this country directly or indirectly till it accepts Union Carbide’s liabilities in Bhopal
  2. The prosecution agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) brings Union Carbide Corporation and Warren Anderson before the Bhopal District Court in the pending criminal case
  3. The CBI through a Special Prosecution Cell does its best to send Keshub Mahindra and other Indian accused to jail for at least 10 years
  4. The Bhopal Memorial Hospital has full facilities for treatment of all diseases known to be associated with exposure to Union Carbide’s poisons
  5. The National Institute for Research in Environmental Health (NIREH) provides treatment protocols specific to exposure-related health problems and carries out medical research that benefits the gas victims and those exposed to contaminated groundwater
  6. The petition before the Supreme Court of India for additional compensation from Dow Chemical/Union Carbide is based on correct figures of deaths and injuries and best efforts are made for its adjudication in favour of the Bhopal victims
  7. It intervenes in the US Federal Court in support of the Bhopal plaintiffs seeking clean up of the contaminated land in and around the abandoned factory
  8. A comprehensive scientific assessment of the nature, depth and spread of contamination is carried out by a competent agency for clean up and assessment of liability
  9. Epidemiological studies are carried out particularly to document the health impact of chronic exposure to contaminated ground water and children with congenital malformations born to gas and contaminated water exposed parents

Two years to the government of Madhya Pradesh to ensure that:

  1. All hospitals run by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department are adequately staffed, stock quality medicines, are fully computerised and use standardised treatment protocols
  2. Every person known to be injured by the disaster and / or exposed to contaminated groundwater receives a health book that ensures free health care at government run hospitals
  3. Every person known to be disabled or turned destitute as a result of the disaster receives a monthly pension of at least Rs 1,000 as social support
  4. All residents of the communities-affected by ground water contamination are provided clean piped water
  5. All children of gas and contaminated water exposed parents with congenital disabilities receive access to rehabilitation and medical care

 

Read more: Bhopal gas tragedy [18]

 

 

The Bhopal Disaster and Medical Research


Vol – XLVII No. 49, December 08, 2012 |  EPW-C Sathyamala and N D Jayaprakash

The Supreme Court, in its fi nal order of October 1991, upheld the compensation settlement with Union Carbide which made the Government of India liable for any shortfall in compensation or any new claims from the Bhopal gas victims. Following this order the Indian Council of Medical Research disbanded its medical esearch on the long-term medical effects of the disaster. A recent Supreme Court order directs the ICMR to resume that research, but the question that looms is why the ICMR abdicated its ethical mandate and allowed its subordination to a political diktat. Why did the ICMR as aninstitution allow itself to become an apologist of the Indian state?

C Sathyamala (csathyamala@gmail.com) is an epidemiologist and a member of the Advisory Committee on Bhopal set up by the Supreme Court of India on 17 August 2004. N D Jayaprakash (jaypdsf@gmail.com) is convenor, Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti, a Delhi-based coalition of over 30 all-India organisations founded in 1989 to support the gas victims.

The Supreme Court, in its final order of October 1991, upheld the compensation settlement with Union Carbide which made the Government of India liable for any shortfall in compensation or any new claims from the Bhopal gas victims. Following this order the Indian Council of Medical Research disbanded its medical research on the long-term medical effects of the disaster. A recent Supreme Court order directs the ICMR to resume that research, but the question that looms is why the ICMR abdicated its ethical mandate and allowed its subordination to a political diktat. Why did the ICMR as an institution allow itself to become an apologist of the Indian state?

C Sathyamala (csathyamala@gmail.com) is an epidemiologist and a member of the Advisory Committee on Bhopal set up by the Supreme Court of India on 17 August 2004. N D Jayaprakash (jaypdsf@gmail.com) is convenor, Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti, a Delhi-based coalition of over 30 all-India organisations founded in 1989 to support the gas victims.

The 9th of August 2012 witnessed the culmination of a protracted litigation in the Supreme Court of India (SCI) by the survivor groups and their support organisations in the Bhopal gas leak disaster case for appropriate medical relief and rehabilitation. The ­order passed on the writ petition No 50 of 1998 (Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghatan (BGPMUS) & Ors1 vs Union of India & Ors2), directed the Government of India (GoI), the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), to ensure the continuation of medical research, prepare standardised protocols for diagnosis and treatment of the exposed, as well as provide patient-retained health booklets for recording their medical history and treatment.3 Though the order can be considered radical given the context, as rightly pointed out in the EPW editorial (2012), it is indeed disturbing that it requires a Supreme Court order to direct ICMR to continue research on what is patently their role as a medical scientific body. Why did the ICMR abdicate its ethical mandate and allow its subordination to a political dictate is the story that needs to be told.

The industrial disaster in Bhopal on the night of 2/3 December 1984 exposed more than two-thirds of the nearly 9,00,000 population to a mixture of toxic gases4 that escaped from the pesticide factory owned by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), a subsidiary of ­Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), a US multinational company currently owned by another US multinational, Dow Chemicals. As was to be expected, the UCC ­denied any wrongdoing on their side but would not part with the toxicological ­information on methyl isocyanate (MIC), the chemical which had been stored in liquid form in the factory premises and whose runaway exothermic reaction was responsible for the ­disaster. In the absence of this critical toxicological ­information, the scientific bodies had to generate their own data for understanding the nature of the chemical injury and develop possible antidote and therapies.

Suppression of the Health Impact

In the period immediately following the disaster, both the central and state governments appeared to be serious about mapping its health impact. The first systematic survey on the exposed population was carried out by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which had been approached by the Commissioner of Relief and Rehabilitation for the gas victims (Singh 2010). Funded by Sir ­Dorabji Tata Trust (since the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government had refused to finance it), the house-to-house survey was conducted from 1 January 1985 to the second week of February 1985, by “… [a] total of 478 students, 41 faculty members and 13 staff members cover[ing] 25,259 households” (Singh 2010).

Alongside, the ICMR began the process of providing the gas-exposed families with a unique identifying number as a first step towards developing a sampling frame for long-term epidemiological studies. Based on post-mortem studies on the dead which indicated a “cyanide-like” poisoning,5 ICMR conducted a ­double-blind clinical study to assess the efficacy of Sodium Thiosulphate (NaTS), as an antidote to the poisoning and ­concluded,

…the rationale for the use of sodium thiosulphate as an antidote has been established to ameliorate the lingering sickness of gas affected victims of Bhopal (ICMR 1985).

Yet, the ICMR did not follow through with this recommendation both because of opposition from the powerful medical lobby in Bhopal which was heavily influenced by Union Carbide and because of the Indian government’s wavering stand. The MP government on its part decided to suppress the data collected by TISS which had been handed over to it in good faith.

In early 1985, the Indian Parliament passed the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act (deemed to have come into effect from 20 February 1985), purported to prevent the exploitation of the victims by the ambulance-chasing American lawyers. However, with this Act, the Indian state assumed the role of parens patriae vis-à-vis the victims thereby appropriating their rights under its umbrella of care. The Bhopal Act gave the Indian government,

exclusive right to, represent, and act in place of (whether within or outside India) every person who has made, or is entitled to make, a claim for all purposes connected with such claims in the same manner and to the same effect as such person(GoI 1994, emphasis added).

Under this Act the victims had no rights to represent themselves and, though it was challenged in the SCI as early as 1986,6 it was upheld as being constitutionally valid.7 The logical consequence of this legal appropriation of a citizen’s right to litigate meant that the state had the right to medical appropriation as well (Jaising and Sathyamala 1992). Hence, it became the government’s ­exclusive right to determine whether they would study the health effects of the toxic gases, which aspects they would research on, whether they would share the findings with the claimants and whether they would submit the research findings in their litigation against UCC.

With the passing of the Act the changing stance of the Indian government could be discerned, and the victim groups were forced to approach the courts for medical relief. The petition filed on behalf of the victims in August 1985 brought to the notice of the SCI the refusal of the medical community in Bhopal to administer NaTS as well as the lack of adequate healthcare facilities for the gas exposed.8

The Supreme Court then set up a committee of seven experts with three representatives from the ICMR, two from GoI and two representatives of the gas victims. The committee was to examine the detoxification of the gas victims by NaTS therapy; suggest appropriate design for an epidemiological ­survey for the purpose of documentation, and for determining compensation payable to the victims; and to recommend guidelines for the provision of medical relief, and monitoring of the ­exposed population. The SCI, convinced of the need for long-term medical monitoring, stated in their order of 4 Nov­ember 1985:

It is desirable that some independent machinery must be set up which would…carry out a proper epidemiological survey and also a house-to-house survey of the gas affected victims both of which will also be necessary for the purpose of determining the compensation payable to the gas affected victims and their families. It would be necessary for the purpose of ensuring proper medical ­facilities to the gas affected victims.

Inadequate Epidemiological Study

However, the members of the committee, representing divergent interests, could not come to a consensus. In 1987-88, the two representatives of the gas victims in the committee9 submitted a separate minority report entitled “Final Report on Medical Relief and Rehabilitation of Bhopal Gas Victims”. This pointed out the inadequacies in the studies initiated by the ICMR, specifically the long-term epidemiological study, and outlined a set of well-considered recommendations on how they could be improved upon. Though this was submitted to the Court on 30 August 1988, it was not ­taken cognisance of.10

Seemingly in response to this petition, the GoI on its own set up the “Scientific Commission for Continuing Studies on Effects of Bhopal Gas Leakage on Life Systems” headed by C R Krishna Murti (former director, Indian Institute of Toxico­logy Research). The commission’s report submitted to the GoI in July 1987 (publicly accessible only a decade later) was also not submitted to the courts. The 1,000+page report, entitled “The Bhopal Gas Disaster: Effects on Life Systems” commented on the ICMR studies that

..[t]he progress of the epidemiological programme mounted in Bhopal has been tardy and suffers from many inadequacies in the design and in the infrastructure for implementation (Krishna Murti 1987: 11-12).

The report highlighted certain important areas for research:

What is the prognosis of the continuing suffering of the thousands of gas exposees [sic] including a large number of children?
How many of the gas exposees [sic] are likely to be condemned to life-long disability?
Will there be an imprint of the disaster on the progeny of the gas-victims? (Krishna Murti 1987: 3).

It recommended that

… the Ministry of Health with the assistance of ICMR and other agencies creates the requisite mechanism for high level coordination and monitoring of the long-term health studies of the Bhopal Gas Victims (Krishna Murti 1987: 26).

State Complicity

On 14/15 February 1989, empowered by the Bhopal Act, when the GoI settled all claims of the present and the future arising out of the disaster, it was clear that it was not based on any scientific understanding of the nature of injuries or the numbers of injured as none of the data collected by the several scientific bodies was placed before the Court. Due to countrywide protests that followed the unjust arbitrary settlement, the SCI, forced to come out with some justification, in their 4 May 1989 clarificatory order, used arbitrary numbers to provide a mathematical rationale for the amount of money settled for. It was during the hearing of the review petitions challenging the settlement that the victim groups became aware for the first time of the real numbers involved. The numbers provided by the MP government showed that, as of 31 January 1989, i e, 15 days prior to the settlement of the approximately 6,00,000 claimants, only 29,320 persons had been categorised for injury, and of these less than 100 persons had been found to be permanently disabled (partial or full).11

It was left to the victim groups to demonstrate that the process of Personal ­Injury Evaluation (PIE), adopted by the Directorate of Claims for categorisation of injuries, was designed to underestimate the nature of injuries and that by

…inadequately examining the claimants (clinically and through investigations) and by evaluating the injuries and categorizing them with the use of faulty tools biased against the gas victims, the Directorate of Claims, Bhopal, ha[d] ‘defined’ away the injuries of more than 90% of the victims as ‘no injury’ or ‘temporary injury’ (Sathyamala et al 1989).12

With the settlement of 13/14 February 1989, and the SCI’s clarificatory order of 4 May 1989, the complicity of the Indian state became apparent and it was from this period onwards that the victim groups realised that they could no longer depend on the GoI and would need to enter into litigation on their own to ­represent their interests from their point of view.

Through an order from the SCI, the victims were allowed access to their PIE assessment and the newly elected government (the National Front government) made available the ICMR studies on the gas exposed which had till then been held under the Official Secrets Act. The ICMR studies showed the effects of exposure to be multi-systemic, irreversible and progressive; the exposure had affected the immune system, previously asymptomatic persons were becoming symptomatic and there was a grave possibility of carcinogenic and mutagenic changes in the exposed population.

Unfortunately, the victim groups were not able to put up an effective challenge against the civil settlement particularly against the faulty medical categorisation based on the faulty personal injury evaluation process. The National Front government too failed to raise this issue before the Court. However, it was when the counsel for UCC argued on the basis of the numbers provided by the MP government13 and showed, mathematically, using the same rationale provided in the SCI’s clarificatory order of 4 May 1989, that UCC had in fact paid up more than what was warranted,14 that the central importance played by the injury assessment in compensation became clear.

Why Stop Research?

After 3 October 1991, when the final ­order on the review petitions, upholding the civil part (compensation) of the settlement, was pronounced by the SCI, the GoI decided to disband its medical studies. This was in contravention to the court ruling that,

…for at least a period of eight years from now the population of Bhopal exposed to the hazards of MIC toxicity should have provision for medical surveillance by periodic medical check-up for gas related afflictions.15

There was a compelling reason for the GoI’s decision to disband the medical studies. The settlement had quashed all future litigations against UCC and in the event of shortfall in the compensation payable to the victims and in case of newer claims (new manifestation of injuries both in the directly exposed and in their progeny, i e, new generation of claimants), it was the GoI that was liable. It was now not in the interest of the GoI to document the long-term medical effects of the disaster as they were now legally liable to compensate the new claims, if any, and therefore in the same year all ICMR studies were brought to an end. This was also the reason why the victims, even after repeated demands and many legal directions, were never provided with health booklets to record their medical history; for doing so would turn such booklets into a legal document on the basis of which they could claim compensation for long-term effects.

Since the GoI showed no signs of ­re-initiating medical research, the victim groups and their supporters approached the SCI in 1998 for legal remedy. Though the SCI gave several orders16 directing the ICMR to restart the medical research and the health directorate of MP to issue health booklets to record patient history of the gas exposed, they have been largely ignored.

As though to justify the unjustifiable, in a recent report, ICMR is stated to have withdrawn from conducting medical ­research because,

[i]n 1994, after review/recommendations of the projects by the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) and Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), it was observed that the projects had achieved the objectives and were thus completed… (ICMR 2012).

With this statement, the ICMR has cut at its root of scientific integrity, because all evidence points to the contrary. In fact, ICMR’s recent publication based on data from 1985-94, the period after which the studies were discontinued, confirms that in Bhopal,

…cancer of all sites in both males and females showed a significant increasing trend in incidence rates over the years in Area 1 … while in Area 2 no linear trend was observed (ICMR undated: 174).17

While there have been and there continue to be individual scientists within the ICMR who have done work that has been in keeping with their scientific-­ethical mandate, ICMR as an institution has allowed itself to become an apo­logist of the Indian state. The Bhopal ­expe­rience does not infuse confidence among people who live near potential disaster sites about the seriousness and commitment on the part of the government, both central and state, to protect its citizens. With such a track record, the people who are currently protesting the nuclear power plant in Koodankulam are right to distrust the state which has demonstrated that its interests lie elsewhere

 

The unfinished story of Bhopal 1984 #musicalactivism #rap


Dec. 2nd. 1984 was the tragic day when the negligence of Union Carbide led to the Bhopal gas tragedy, an industrial disaster that killed over 25,000 people and cursed generations to a host of diseases and genetic afflictions.

This is a day we cannot dare forget.

So with the vocal talents of rapper Anmol Gawand and the vocals and production of Jackson John joined by yours truly, we bring to you “Bhopal M.I.C”, our song to commemorate this day and honour the memories of those affected by this tragedy.

Incidentally, the “M.I.C” in Bhopal M.I.C doesn’t stand for microphone. It stands for Methyl Iso-Cyanate, the lethal gas that was released into the city of Bhopal on 2nd Dec., 1984. 25,000 dead and still counting.

http://soundcloud.com/alistrap/bhopal-m-i-c-feat-a-gee

 

Bhopal Gas Tragedy Victims file petition for reissuing notice to Dow Chemicals


clean up Bhopal now

clean up Bhopal now (Photo credit: Ascanio)

 

SATURDAY, 01 DECEMBER 2012 18:32
STAFF REPORTER | BHOPAL, Pioneer

 

Bhopal gas tragedy victims have filed a petition for reissuing the notice to Dow Chemicals Limited, USA. A victim’s delegation also met Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday demanding compensation for the environmental loss due to the tragedy.
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan Convener Abdul Jabbar said a petition has been filed by the organisation for reissuing of a notice issued by CJM Bhopal in January 2005 in wake of lifting of the stay in October this year. In January 2005 CJM issued a showcause notice to Dow Chemicals to reply that since they are the new owner of Union Carbide now why they should not be liable for the gas tragedy.
The organisation has also demanded that report of present status of a case filed by CBI in Delhi Metropolitan court in which permanent warrant has been issued against Warren Anderson and the sensitive gas tragedy file which at present is with Kochar Commission should be submitted before the CJM so that the hearing may proceed. Jabbar further said that a delegation led by him met Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Chief Secretary R Parshuram on Friday put their demands before them.
The main demands include that the criminal case of the gas leak tragedy should be heard in a special court so that the case can be completed speedily. The other demand is that the Indian Government should ask for compensation from Dow Chemicals for the environmental loss occurred due to the gas leak. They also demanded that a review of rehabilitation work and also the compensation amount should be done earnestly.

 

 

Bhopal tragedy: India yet to bring Warren Anderson, Union Carbide to book


LEMUEL LALL BHOPAL, NOVEMBER 29, 2012 | UPDATED 15:14 IST, Indiatoday.in

TAGS: Bhopal | Bhopal gas tragedy | Union Carbide |Warren Anderson | Warren Anderson extradition | Bhopal gas tragedy anniversary
Archive photos of the Bhopal gas tragedy
Archive photos of the Bhopal gas tragedy.
Even 28 years after the world’s worst industrial disaster – Bhopal Gas Tragedy, India has failed to extradite and try the prime accused in the case Warren Anderson, former Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation USA.

Four days after toxic gas spewed from the now defunct Bhopal Union Carbide Factory on December 3, 1984, killing more than 15,000 persons and maiming a huge number of people, Anderson came to the Madhya Pradesh capital via Mumbai from US but after being arrested for a few hours managed to escape using a landline phone kept in his detention room.

India Today Cover Story on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Since then he has not returned to face trial and is a declared fugitive in India.

“Had we removed the land line phone from his room, Anderson, would not have escaped. He possibly made calls from the phone to contacts in US to help him leave India,” the then Bhopal collector Moti Singh told India Today. The US Embassy reportedly mounted pressure on India government which budged and released Anderson, a resident of 39 Old Ridgebury Road, Danbury, Connecticut, USA, on bail.

After the verdict of June 7, 2010, convicting seven executives of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) to two years imprisonment, was described as too little-too late and drew public outcry across the world, especially against Anderson, the Indian government in a damage-control exercise sent a fresh request to the US for his extradition according to the provisions of extradition treaty, on April 28, 2011.

Raghu Rai

After a reminder, the US Department of Justice on January 11 this year informed the Embassy of India in Washington that the matter is still under examination and no decision has yet been taken by them on extradition of Anderson.

Before this, the Indian government, which has been too kind to Anderson in May 2003, had forwarded a request for extradition of Anderson. This request was declined by the US in June 2004 stating that it didn’t meet the relevant provision of the Indo-USA extradition treaty of 1999.

In 2004, 2005 and 2008, the India government had taken up the matter with the US but Washington had turned down Anderson’s extradition requests.

The prosecuting agency in the case – Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is soft-peddling Anderson’s trial and this can be gauged from the fact that the country’s premier investigation agency had in 2002 filed an application in the then Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate Rameshwarjee Kote’s court for the recall of an arrest warrant issued against Anderson under section 304 (II) (culpable homicide inviting 10 years imprisonment, or a fine, or both) and issuance of fresh warrant under section 304 (a) (criminal negligence inviting 2 years imprisonment, or a fine, or both.

Pictures of the Bhopal gas tragedy

Kote dismissed this application on August 28, 2002.

On February 1, 1992, the Bhopal CJM court declared Anderson an absconder and ordered that UCIL property be attached to the state.

The CJM, Bhopal, had been pulling the CBI from time to time over Anderson and on September 7, 2001 it had directed the agency to furnish details of measures taken by government to extradite Anderson, on a petition moved by the NGOs working for the survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

The courts in Bhopal have issued non-bailable warrants against Anderson twice. The Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate issued a warrant on March 27, 1992 and Judicial Magistrate First Class Mohan P Tiwari issued the arrest warrant on July 2, 2009.

A one-man judicial commission, headed by retired Justice S L Kochar, formed in 2010 to probe into the gas tragedy by the state government has recently served a notice on Anderson. The Commission is also looking into the then government’s role in the arrest, release and safe passage given to Anderson to fly from Bhopal to Delhi and finally to the US.

Pictures of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy

According to the NGOs working for survivors of the tragedy, the Congress government and BJP led-NDA regime have been pussy-peddling on Anderson’s extradition.

“Anderson escaped from the country after the Congress government at the Centre buckled under US pressure in 1984. Similarly, the CBI when NDA government was power in 2002 tried to dilute charges against Anderson so he become non extraditable under the provisions of Indo-US Extradition Treaty,” Abdul Jabbar of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan – an NGO, says.

“We have filed a petition in the court seeking action against Moti Singh and the then Bhopal Superintendent of Police Swaraj Puri in connection with escape of Anderson. He was given a VIP treatment during detention and was given bail in a wrong way,” Jabbar says.

“We have filed an application under Freedom of Information Act in US to obtain information regarding the status on Anderson’s extradition,” Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action, an NGO, says. “We are pursuing the case,” she says.

Read more at:http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/bhopal-set-to-mourn-28-years-of-infamy-when-india-couldnt-bring-anderson-union-carbide-to-book/1/235289.html

 

Bhopal Gas Tragedy: City still breathes Methyl Isocyanate


Tags: Bhopal Gas Tragedy , Bhopal , Methyl Isocyanate , UCIL

Published by: Vishal Srivastav , pardaphash.com
Published on: Sat, 01 Dec 2012 at 11:14 IST


Bhopal Gas Tragedy: City still breathes Methyl Isocyanate

Bhopal: India will not forget December 2 till its existence on the planet Earth. Reason? Term it ‘the day of the death’, and it won’t be erroneous in any which way. The havoc of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy was poured by the leak of Methyl Isocyanate which blended with the air and rested in the lungs of men, women, children and creatures leaving them breathless.

The Bhopal disaster, which is also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered to be one of the world’s worst industrial disasters. It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way in and around the shantytowns located near the plant. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259.

The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate 8,000 died within two weeks and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases.

A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.

UCIL was the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), with Indian Government controlled banks and the Indian public holding a 49.1 percent stake. In 1994, the Supreme Court of India allowed UCC to sell its 50.9 percent interest in UCIL to Eveready Industries India Limited.

The Bhopal plant was later sold to McLeod Russel (India) Ltd. Dow Chemical Company purchased UCC in 2001.
Civil and criminal cases are pending in the District Court of Bhopal, India, involving UCC and Warren Anderson, UCC CEO at the time of the disaster.

In June 2010, seven ex-employees, including the former UCIL chairman, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by law. An eighth former employee was also convicted, but died before the judgment was passed.

Factors leading to the magnitude of the gas leak mainly included problems such as; storing MIC in large tanks and filling beyond recommended levels, poor maintenance after the plant ceased MIC production at the end of 1984, failure of several safety systems due to poor maintenance, and safety systems being switched off to save money— including the MIC tank refrigeration system which could have mitigated the disaster severity.

The situation was worsened by the mushrooming of slums in the vicinity of the plant, non-existent catastrophe plans, and shortcomings in health care and socio-economic rehabilitation.

Other factors identified by the inquiry included: use of a more dangerous pesticide manufacturing method, large-scale MIC storage, plant location close to a densely populated area, undersized safety devices, and the dependence on manual operations.

Plant management deficiencies were also identified – lack of skilled operators, reduction of safety management, insufficient maintenance, and inadequate emergency action plans.

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