#India-Bhopal gas tragedy: #DowChemical may finally be held accountable #justice #goodnews


(http://www.downtoearth.org.in)

bhopal
Moyna-Madhya Pradesh High Court lifts stay that prevented company from being summoned

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has finally lifted a seven-year-old stay that prevented summoning of Dow Chemical in the ongoing criminal case in connection with the Bhopal gas tragedy. Dow Chemical is now the owner of Union Carbide, responsible for the gas tragedy in 1984.

The stay was granted by the high court in March 2005 after Dow Chemical International Private Limited (DCIPL) filed an appeal in response to a January 6, 2005 notice of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) of Bhopal, Anil Kumar Gupta. He had issued a showcause notice to Dow, stating, “It would not be proper to pass an order on fixing criminal and civil liability on Dow… without listening to the opposite party”.

The CJM order came after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a chargesheet against Union Carbide in 1987. This is the only criminal case registered [1] in India against the owners of the Bhopal pesticide factory.

In its order on October 19, the bench headed by Justice G S Solanki dismissed the petition stating that it is for the trial court to decide whether Union Carbide has ceased to exist following merger with Dow Chemical or if it still exists as a legal entity. The order states, “The question with respect to merger of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in the Dow Chemical Company, USA and whether UCC still survives as a separate legal entity are open for determination before the trial court.” The high court further observed the trial court had issued notice to Dow Chemical well within its jurisdiction.

Expressing relief over the progress in the case, Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action said it is a big step towards making Union Carbide face trial in India, which has been absconding for over two decades now. In February 2004, Bhopal Group for Information and Action had filed an appeal in the CJM court of Bhopal, asking that Dow Chemical USA be summoned to clarify why it cannot produce its own subsidiary UCC before the Bhopal court in the ongoing criminal case. The company was declared an absconder in 1992 [2] and has officially denied any responsibility for the 1984 disaster. Dhingra also cautioned that the company may file an appeal against the order in the Supreme Court.

“Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant will be more destructive than the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984”


 

COIMBATORE: A disaster at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant will be more destructive than the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, saidSatinath Sarangi, one of the leaders of the movement seeking justice for victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy. He was speaking to TOI after interacting with students at the Park Group of Institutions on Wednesday.

Sarangi claimed that power plants in India including those in Tarapur in Maharashtra and Rawatbhata in Rajasthan were among the worst in the world with respect to safety measures. Researchers from other countries visit these plants to study how not to run them, he said. He added that in the case of the proposed Kudankulam power plant, the nuclear establishment was still to reveal safety measures.

Various government agencies have been suppressing problems they have created in areas surrounding the nuclear power plants, he said. Radiation leaks are common in the plants but the government has not yet conducted a study on the health issues caused by power plants. Getting even basic information on the number of people affected by radiation in areas near nuclear power plants is close to impossible, he added. Hospitals do not give information and even conducting surveys in villages in the vicinity are not allowed. Therefore, the hazardous effects that the power plants can cause are not yet known, he said.

Sarangi also spoke about the plight of the victims of Bhopal tragedy. He said the government has completely neglected the needs of thousands of people who were affected by the gas leak from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal three decades ago.

Thousands of kilo grams of chemical waste have been buried in and around the areas, contaminating underground water sources and creating serious health problems. Birth defects, cancers and diseases affecting the liver and kidneys are common in Bhopal, Sarangi said. To avoid similar situations the Kudankulam plant must be stopped, he said.

Actor Rahul Bose also interacted with the students and spoke about youth movements that target corruption and other pressing issues.

SC-Dispose toxic waste in a six months and ensure proper healthcare to Bhopal Victims #Goodnews


 

, TNN  and Hindu| Aug 10, 2012,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre and Madhya Pradesh government to take steps within six months for safe disposal of the large quantity of toxic wastelying in and around the defunct Union Carbideplant, from which leak of poisonous gas in December 1984 had resulted in death of thousands and maiming of a lakh people.To ensure proper implementation of the relief and rehabilitation programme and regular health care facilities for the Bhopal gas leak victims, they ordered that all medical records of patients be computerised and health booklets and smart cards be issued to each victim.

Terming the unattended toxic waste at the plant as hazardous to the health of people in Bhopal, a bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar said “it needs to be disposed of at the earliest and in a scientific manner”.

“We direct the Union of India and the state of Madhya Pradesh to take immediate steps for disposal of the toxic waste laying in and around the Union Carbide factory, Bhopal, on the recommendations of the Empowered Monitoring Committee, Advisory Committee and the National Institute of Research in Environment Health (NIREH) within six months,” said Justice Kumar, who authored the judgment.

“The disposal should be strictly in a scientific manner which may cause no further damage to human health and environment in Bhopal. We direct a collective meeting of these organizations to be held along with the secretary to the government of India and the chief secretary of the state of Madhya Pradesh within one month from today to finalize the entire scheme of disposal of the toxic waste,” the bench said.

Private bodies and NGOs have estimated that around 27,000 tonnes of toxic waste is lying in and around the Carbide plant. They have expressed apprehension that this was responsible for gradual ground water contamination in nearby areas.

The bench also ordered transfer of the 14-year-old PIL by NGO ‘Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sangathan’ to Madhya Pradesh High Court for monitoring of proper implementation of the series of directions issued by the apex court on Thursday as well as on earlier occasions to alleviate the suffering of the victims and provide them proper medical help.

It also dissolved the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust (BMHT), which was taken over by the Centre after former CJI A M Ahmadi resigned as its chairman. The Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre and the Trust were created on the direction of the apex court in 1988 for healthcare of gas victims.

The trust, with a corpus of Rs 436.47 crore, will be dissolved and the money vested with the Union ministry of health and family welfare which will continue with the research work and provide healthcare to victims, the bench said.

In another significant direction, it wanted the accounts of the trust to be audited afresh till July 2010 despite a private chartered accountant pointing to “no irregularity or objections”.

The bench said, “It would still be in the interest of BMHT itself, particularly when the management and corpus of the BMHT have been transferred to the Union of India, that the government agency, besides regularly inspecting the accounts of BMHT, also give their final report for the period ending July 2010.”

It added, “Accounts of BMHRC and allied departments, as far as they are subject matter of the present writ petition, shall be audited by the principal accountant general (audit), Madhya Pradesh. It shall also examine the accounts and the audit report dated 15th July, 2011 submitted by M/s V K Verma and Company within three months from today.”

The court said with passage of time, the figure of gas affected population had risen to 5 lakh. “With the passage of time this disaster has attained wider dimensions and greater concerns, which require discharge of higher responsibilities by all agencies. In terms of Article 21 of the Constitution, all the gas victims are entitled to greater extent of multi-dimensional healthcare, as their sufferings are in no way, directly or indirectly, attributable to them. It was, primarily and undoubtedly, the negligence on the part of Union Carbide Ltd that resulted in leakage of the MIC gas, causing irreversible damage to the health of not only the persons affected but even the children who were still to be born,” the court said.

Entrusting the Empowered Monitoring Committee with this task, the Bench said: “It must undertake to operationalise medical surveillance, computerisation of medical information, publication of ‘health booklets,’ etc. It shall also ensure that ‘health booklets’ and ‘smart cards’ are provided to each… victim irrespective of where such victim is being treated.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Kumar said: “The Empowered Monitoring Committee shall have complete jurisdiction to oversee the proper functioning of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) as well as other government hospitals dealing with the gas victims. This jurisdiction shall be limited to the problems relatable to the gas victims or the problems arising directly from the incident [which occurred on the night of December 2-3, 1984 at Union Carbide’s plant] or even the problems allied thereto. The Monitoring Committee shall have no jurisdiction over the private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics in Bhopal. However, it does not absolve the State of Madhya Pradesh and the Medical Council of India of discharging its responsibilities towards the… victims who are being treated in private hospitals, nursing homes or clinics.”

Justifying the directions, the Bench said: “Unlike natural calamities that are beyond human control, avoidable disasters resulting from human error/negligence prove more tragic and… imbalance the inter-generational equity and cause irretrievable damage to the health and environment for generations to come. Such tragedy may occur from pure negligence, contributory negligence or even failure to take necessary precautions in carrying on certain industrial activities. More often than not, the affected parties have to face avoidable damage and adversity that result from such disasters. The magnitude and extent of adverse impact on the financial soundness, social health and upbringing of younger generation, including progenies, may have been beyond human expectations. In such situations and where the laws are silent or are inadequate, the courts have unexceptionally stepped in to bridge the gaps, to provide for appropriate directions and guidelines to ensure that fundamentals of Article 21 of the Constitution are not violated.”

The Bench directed the State government and the Monitoring Committee to evolve a methodology for a common referral system among the various medical units under the erstwhile BMHRC and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department to ensure that the victims “are referred to appropriate centres for proper diagnosis and treatment…” The Monitoring Committee shall issue a standardised protocol for treating each category of ailment.

The Bench said: “The management of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust (BMHT) has already been vested with the [Union] Ministry of Health and Family Welfare… and the working of the BMHT has come to an end. We, thus, direct that the Union of India and the State of Madhya Pradesh take appropriate steps to ensure the dissolution of the Trust in accordance with law.”

 

Happiness Quotient Vedanta’s corporate campaign sparks off a controversy


English: Piyush Pandey

Image via Wikipedia

Buisnessworld , 03 Mar 2012, Prasad Sangameshwaran

The hunter becomes the hunted. Adman Piyush Pandey, known for his anti-smoking campaign and a film on the Bhopal gas tragedy, finds himself at the receiving end of a controversy. At the epicentre is a corporate film, ‘Creating Happiness’, that his agency, Ogilvy, made for Vedanta, the natural resources major that stands accused of human rights violations in tribal areas.

The ad, which features a young girl from Rajasthan who has benefited from Vedanta’s community initiatives, is believed to be the brainchild of Vedanta chief Anil Agarwal’s daughter Priya Agarwal, who works at Ogilvy. The ad would have escaped activists’ radar, but for a competition that Vedanta ran alongside the 90-second ad, inviting young film makers to make films on the company’s social initiatives. Two of the three jury members of the competition — actor-activist Gul Panag and veteran film maker Shyam Benegal — have resigned, claiming that they were unaware of Vedanta’s association with the campaign. And Pandey, the third jury member, has become the target of online activists, who posted ‘spoof’ ads on Facebook, showing Pandey with the caption “I’m faking happiness, are you?” Online activists sent appeals to I&B minister Ambika Soni to prevent the ad from being aired. And a counter competition inviting young film makers to create ‘faking happiness’ ads has been launched. “We are mixing issues that neither me nor the activists are qualified to make a judgement on,” is what Pandey, executive chairman, Ogilvy has to say on the debate.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 12-03-2012)

Read original Article here

I was asked to reply Piyush Pandey’s comment  and I did but was not  carried in the story , so here is my reply

Which issues are being mixed and where ? A clear case of playing with peoples emotions by projecting the messages in a stratigized campaign to fool people into believing what it shows,a documentraish  branding, patronising our history and poverty.It is an aggressive attempt at classical conditioning from a company whose brand recognition has been closely connected to its questionable practices in precisely the kind of tribal areas where this ad claims it is ‘creating happiness’ and just look at the selected jury, Gul Panag and Shyam Benegal, the socially conscious celebrities in the world of cinema, who were actually kept in dark, that its a VEDANTA PR EXCERCISE There is something called professional ethics, I hope Mr Pandey knows that very well, so act of keeping jury in dark was totally unethical . The Films in creating happiness are produced by Vedanta , funded by vedanta, and telling people what great work they are doing, Its like judging own production , and using the filmakers to say what vedanta officials wanted to say, but could not as no onE would have then believd them obviously .

Open letter to Piyush Pandey on Vedanta’s “Creating Happiness”


To

Executive Chairman &National Creative Director India and South Asia

Ogilvy & Mather Pvt Ltd

21st Feb, 2012

Dear Mr Piyush Pandey

Greetings !

You are the Icon of  Indian advertising Industry and I was delighted to know that you  have  been appointed as the brand ambassador for D&AD White Pencil Award. The new award from D&AD has been announced for an idea that raises awareness or changes behaviour around a pressing social, environmental or health issue. This is a significant initiative in the world of communication.

Your  mile sur humara tumhara’ for the National Literacy Mission in 1988  got etched in our collective Indian advertising  memory years ago. . As also your  anti smoking ads  for the Cancer Patient association  which won you  two Cannes Gold Medals in 2002. 

In 1999  “Bhopal Express” – a film based on the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984 that was co- written by you, acted as a catalyst in bringing to the forefront  the human rights violations committed by Union Carbide , a  corporate genocide. You supported the cause of Bhopal gas victims, and  I respect  you for that.

After  so many socially responsible ad campaigns  by you  I was aghast  to see  Vedanta’s  “Creating Happiness” ad . Recently unveiling the campaign you said The Vedanta ‘Creating Happiness’ campaign is extremely close to my heart for it’s all about enabling India. I have worked on this campaign along with my team as an excited young copywriter and I look forward to the people of India not just appreciating Vedanta’s efforts, but getting inspired to do something on their own to make India happier place. http://www.mxmindia.com/2012/01/vedanta-group-unveils-first-ever-national-corporate-campaign/

May I ask you, if you really know whether Vedanta has enabled or disabled India ?  Whether  Vedanta has protected the environment of the tribals in India, or has been on land grabbing spree and attacking peaceful protestors?

I urge you to visit Niyamgiri hills, I am sure you will love the paradise on earth, which  Vedanta is hell bent on destroying .

Niyamgiri Hills, named after the Niyamraja, the main deity of the Donagria Kondhs, are one of last untouched wildernesses of Orissa. Rising to a height of more than four thousand feet, it is the source of Vamshadhara river as well as major tributaries of Nagavali rivers. Niyamgiris form a distinct phytogeographical zone because of its height and its highly precipitous topography . It has some of the most pristine forests in Orissa. Niyamgiri flora is of ‘great phyto-geographical importance’ as the hilltops harbor high altitude plants with Himalayan/North Indian and Nilgiri/South Indian elements. Preliminary studies show that it has approximately 50 species of important medicinal plants, about 20 species of wild ornamental plants, and more than 10 species of wild relatives of crop plants .

The forested slopes of the Niyamgiri hills and the many streams that flow through them provide the means of living for Dongaria Kondh and Kutia Kondh, Scheduled Tribes that are notified by the government as ‘Primitive Tribal Groups’ and thus eligible for special protection. In addition, the Dongaria Kondh, whose total population is 7952 according to the 2001 census, are regarded as an endangered tribe. Schedule V of the Indian Constitution which enjoins the government to respect and uphold the land rights of Scheduled Tribes applies to the entire Niyamgiri hills region. While the Kutia Kondh inhabit the foothills, the Dongaria Kondh live in the upper reaches of the Niyamgiri hills which is their only habitat.

In the polytheistic animist worldview of the Kondh, the hilltops and their associated forests are regarded as supreme deities. The highest hill peak, which is under the proposed mining lease area, is the home of their most revered god, Niyam Raja, ‘the giver of law’.

They worship the mountains (dongar from which the Dongaria Kondh derive their name) along with the earth (dharini). These male and female principles come together to grant the Kondh prosperity, fertility and health.

According , ‘Report of the four member committee for investigation into the proposal submitted by the Orissa Mining Company for bauxite mining in Niyamgiri’, dated August 16, 2010, by Dr N C Saxena, Dr S Parasuraman, Dr Promode Kant, Dr Amita Baviskar. Submitted to the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India.

English: An ethnic Wife of Dhaneshwaran from t...

Image via Wikipedia

”As Narendra Majhi, a Kutia Kondh from Similibhata village, said, “We worship Niyam Raja and Dharini Penu. That is why we don’t fall ill”. Sikoka Lodo, a Dongaria Kondh from Lakpadar village said, “As long as the mountain is alive, we will not die”. Dongaria Kondh art and craft reflect the importance of the mountains to their community— their triangular shapes recur in the designs painted on the walls of the village shrine as well as in the colourful shawls that they wear. All the Dongria and Kutia Kondh villagers that the Committee conversed with emphasized the connection between their culture and the forest ecology of the Niyamgiri hills. Their belief in the sacredness of the hills is rooted in a strong dependence on the natural resources that the mountains provide. Their customary practices in the area include agriculture, grazing and the collection of minor forest produce (MFP).All Dongaria Kondh that the Committee spoke to expressed their strong attachment to the Niyamgiri hills, their stewardship of the land, and the legitimacy of their rights arising from their long-standing presence in these hills. They strongly voiced their contentment with life and their opposition to any destructive change of the ecology threatening their culture. As Sikoka Budhga said, “We can never leave Niyamgiri. If the mountains are mined, the water will dry up. The crops won’t ripen. The medicinal plants will disappear. The air will turn bad. Our gods will be angry. How will we live? We cannot leave Niyamgiri.”

Research by Amnesty International and other local and international groups documents the serious and continuing pollution caused by the refinery’s operations. Despite the string of decisions against Vedanta, the company has failed to remedy the pollution.The latest high court verdict states that Vedanta cannot circumvent conditions issued by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), stipulating that plans for expansion of the refinery should go through a fresh environmental and social impact assessment and a public hearing process. Residents of 12 villages who live in the shadow of the massive refinery – mostly Majhi Kondh Adivasi (Indigenous) and Dalit communities who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods – have long campaigned against the expansion.India’s great land grab continues, with police forcibly evicting tribal villagers in Orissa from land sold to UK-based Vedanta Resources to use as a toxic waste dump .

In your various interviews you have time again said you get creative insights from the people you interact with and also while you make ad campaigns you relate to the common man.I urge  you to go and find for yourself what Vedanta is doing to Niyamgiri Hills and talk to the tribals yourself to know the truth.

Meanwhile I would like you to see  activist Satyabadi Naik’s shocking video of police crackdown on a peaceful protest by women of Rengopalli and other villages against Vedanta’s toxic Red Mud Pond in Lanjigarh. This video was recorded on 23 Jan 2012. Watch the Video  urgent-villagers-protest-against-vedanta-red-mud-pond

Soem more films on the  REAL FACE OF VEDANTA

The Real Face of Vedanta

Niyamgiri – The Mountain of Law

iii. The Protector of the Streams

iv. Controversy over best environmental management award to vedanta

Now after reading my letter and watching  the videos you tell me , is  Vedanta “ Creating  Happiness “ or ‘ Faking  Happiness” ?

Regards

Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Mumbai

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