Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
August 8, 2008
NEW DELHI – Bhopal survivor organisations today celebrated victory after the Government of India announced that it will set up an Empowered Commission on Bhopal, and take legal action on the civil and criminal liabilities of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. The announcement was made today by Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Chemicals & Fertilisesr, at the Bhopal protest site at Jantar Mantar. Survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster and people affected by water contamination near Union Carbide’s factory Bhopal have been on strike in New Delhi for the last 130 days.
Bhopal survivors said that they were happy that the Commission would be empowered to allocate resources to different rehabilitation schemes or research projects, issue tenders, identify implementing Central or State Government agencies and change the agencies if their work is unsatisfactory. Although, the extent of funds for the Commission has not been revealed the Bhopal organizations have been assured that funds will not be a problem as the Government is committed to the Commission. The Bhopal organizations have also been assured that the Commission’s scope would include environmental, social, economic and medical rehabilitation.
The survivors organizations expect the Commission to be set up in the next two months. They said that the Commission will also take up the matter of disposal of thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste that were recklessly dumped by the factory management.The organizations expressed satisfaction that in response to their demands the government will now appoint a senior lawyer to argue the case for compensation from Dow Chemical for environmental and consequent health damages. “We expect the Government to go hammer and tongs after Dow Chemical, now that the law ministry has indicated that Union Carbide’s civil liabilities can be passed on to Dow,” the organisations said.
On the demands for deregistering the illegally registered pesticides of Dow Chemical, and revocation of approval given to Reliance for purchase of Union Carbide’s Unipol technology, the Bhopalis have decided to approach the Court. The organizations expressed satisfaction that the Government has decided that no approvals will be given to any Indian agency to purchase Union Carbide’s technology in India in future.
“We have won our demands only after facing undue harassment at the hands of the Government and Delhi Police,” the three organisations said. After the month-long walk and 70-day dharna in Delhi by Bhopalis failed to evoke any response from the Government, 9 Bhopalis launched an indefinite fast lasting 21 days. More than 800 people from at least 10 countries joined them in solidarity by fasting for a day or longer. Diane Wilson, a noted peace and environmental activist from the US, award-winning author of Animal’s People Indra Sinha and an environmental activist from Chennai joined the Bhopalis in their indefinite fast.
International support for the campaign has been massive. Nearly 6000 faxes were sent by supporters to the Prime Minister’s office during the campaign. Meanwhile, NRI and other supporters kept the pressure up by demonstrating outside Indian embassies and calling key Indian politicians over phone. Sixteen US congresspersons, and more than 80 British Members of Parliaments added their voice in support of the Bhopalis’ demands, urging the Prime Minister to meet the demands and hold Dow Chemical accountable for the ongoing disaster in Bhopal.
Bhopal’s Gen Next has been at the core of the public actions targeting the Government. Bhopali children not only sent letters written in blood to the PM, but also chained themselves to the Prime Minister’s house and launched a campaign urging school children to send a heart to the Prime Minister. In July, 22 Bhopalis were arrested for protesting outside the Prime Minister’s Office and jailed in Tihar for more than 10 days.
The organisations thanked Mr. Paswan for his consistent support over the years, and expressed hope that the Minister will provide the necessary support for the Empowered Commission to begin functioning at the earliest.
Rashida Bee , Champa Devi Shukla – Bhopal Gas Pedit Mahila Statyionary Karamchari Sangh
Syed M Irfan – Bhopal Gas Pedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi – Bhopal Group of Informatioan and Action
For more information, contact Rachna Dhingra: 9717516003
Statement to be made by the Hon’ble Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers and Steel on 8th August, 2008 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi before the representatives of Bhopal Gas Victims.
The Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted to oversee the matters related to Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster, in its meeting held on 11th June, 2008, had taken certain important decisions. Based on these decisions, the following action has been/ is being taken by the Government.
(i) Plan of Action for rehabilitation if Bhopal Gas Victims
The government of M.P. has submitted a Memorandum on the Plan of Action for the rehabilitation of the gas victims and their families, with estimates amounting to Rs. 982.75 crore. The Department of C&PC has forwarded the Action Plan to the Planning Commission for their comments and would thereafter be placed before the GoM, for further necessary action.
(ii) Declaration of remaining 20 wards of Bhopal as ‘ gas affected’
The request of the Govt. of M.P. for declaring the remaining 20 wards of Bhopal as Gas affected was not agreed to by the GoM. However, the GoM decided that the Government of M.P. may take an appropriate decision to allow free treatment and availability of medicines to the people of the 20 unaffected wards, in the Government Hospitals, without prejudice to the benefits and entitlements of the recognized gas victims in 36 ‘gas affected’ wards.
(iii) Setting up of an Empowered Commission for rehabilitation of Bhopal Gas Victims:
The Gom decided that the Department of C&PC would prepare a Draft Proposal on the Terms of Reference , modalities, functions, powers, headquarters and other related requirements for setting up of the proposed Empowered Commission. A draft Resolution/ Executive Order, after approval of the Minister of C&F and S and the Chairman of the GoM, has been circulated to the Ministries/ Departments concerned of the Government of India and the Government of M.P., for comments/ views.
(iv) Continuation of Medical Research by ICMR
The ICMR should resume the research work which was stopped in the year 1994 and give its recommendations for the right line of treatment for different medical problems faced by the gas victims and their families. the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been requested to take further necessary action.
(v) Application of the Deptt. of C&PC filed in the High Court of M.P. in W.P. No. 2802 of 2004 (Alok Pratap Singh vs Union of India & Others)
The Department of C&PC would not withdraw its application filed in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh requesting the Court to direct Respondents No. 4 to 6, in the P.I.L filed in W.P. No. 2802 of 2004, to deposit Rs. 100 crore as advance for environmental remediation of the former UCIL plant site at Bhopal. The outcome of the matter pending before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh may be awaited in this regard.
(vi) Offer of Sh. Ratan Tata to set up Site Remediation Fund to clean UCIL Plant site
The offer of Shri Ratan Tata is not acceptable in its current form as it is a conditional offer to absolve Dow Chemicals Company from the liability for environmental remediation of the former UCIL plant site at Bhopal
(vii) Extradition of Warren Anderson
The legal pursuit for the extradition of Warren Anderson may be expediated by the MEA with the US Authorities
(viii) Cancellation of Registeration of Pesticides of Dow obtained by payment of bribes
The CBI has been directed to expediate its report on the investigations into the alleged payment of bribes to the officials of Ministry of Agriculture by Dow for obtaining the registration of four pesticides, including Dursban
(ix) Environmental Remediation of the Former UCIL Plant site at Bhopal
The Government of India and the Government of M.P. may go ahead with the implimentation of the Roadmap for the environmental remediation of the former UCIL Plant site at Bhopal
(x) Review of approval of FTC between Reliance and Dow Global Technologies Inc.
As the representative of the concerned Ministry was not present for the meeting of the GoM, therefore, the views of the Minsitry were not available for the GoM to take a holistic view in the matter related to approval of FTC. The GoM deferred a decision on the issue.
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