Act on Corporate Crime Say Survivors’ Organisations

Press release from four organisations of survivors of the Bhopal Disaster, statement given at a press conference in Bhopal, December 2, 2018.

Addressing a Press Conference on the occasion of the 34th Anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, leaders of four survivors’ organisations said that the Indian government is protecting the criminal corporations with more zeal and being more indifferent towards the victims, ever since Mr. Modi became the Prime Minister.

The organisations said that Mr. Modi’s special relationship with Dow Chemical, Union Carbide’s owner, is known since he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat where Dow tried to set up a joint venture with Gujarat Chemicals and Alkalis in 2008. As the Prime Minister, Modi is known to have invited Dow Chemical’s CEO to a special dinner and photo-op during one of his visits to USA in 2015.

Said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh “The PMO has not taken a single step to stop Union Carbide’s disappearance through the trifurcation of Dow-DuPont that will begin two months from now. At the PMO’s grievance portal our letter of February this year (No. PMOPG/D/2018/0084804) stayed pending for last eight months and last week it has been sent to some Under Secretary in Bhopal who in all likelihood is completely clueless about it. Since May 2014 summons issued repeatedly by the Bhopal District court against Dow Chemical, USA to produce absconding Union Carbide, continue to be ignored. Modijee has failed to get the US Government’s Department of Justice to serve the summons on Dow Chemical as it is obliged to do under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed between India and USA in 1991.”

“Recent scientific studies show that deaths and diseases attributable to exposure to Union Carbide’s gases continue to occur in Bhopal, yet over 80 % of the recommendations of the Supreme Court appointed Monitoring committee for medical rehabilitation of Bhopal victims remain to be implemented. Funds meant for providing employment to a hundred thousand survivors and their children are being spirited away for building roads, drains and parks by Minister for his electoral constituency. Funds meant to provide safe housing to victims of ground water contamination are also being diverted for the same purpose.” said Nawab Khan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said “In 2010 the Congress government realised that the Bhopal victims had not been adequately compensated and filed a Curative Petition in the Supreme Court seeking additional compensation of 1.2 billion dollars. However, neither the Congress nor the BJP governments have filed any application for urgent hearing in the last eight years and the Curative Petition has not moved an inch since it was filed. Quite clearly the government is protecting the best interests of the American corporations over the legal rights of the victims.”

According to Nausheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide, poisonous chemicals continue to leach into the groundwater from thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste buried outside the Union Carbide factory. Since 2004 when the Supreme Court took notice of this second environmental disaster in Bhopal, the contamination has spread to 42 communities around the factory with a population of over one hundred thousand. Governments at the state and the centre have done nothing to make Dow Chemical clean up the contamination as it is legally obliged to do according to the laws of India and USA.”

Linking the disaster in Bhopal with that of industrial pollution, leaders of the organisations said that the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health’s latest report places industrial pollution as one of the top five causes of death worldwide. “As in Bhopal, over 90% of industrial pollution is a consequence of the corporate world’s criminal indifference towards environment and public health. In order to reduce pollution it needs to be called by its real name, Corporate Crime, and dealt accordingly.” they said.

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We believe Dow & DuPont must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.