On November 23rd 2019, Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action was awarded the ethecon Blue Planet Award 2019 in Berlin, Germany, in recognition of her decades of work to secure proper compensation for victims of the disaster and to rehabilitate the site of the old Union Carbide Chemical factory.
The laudation for Rachna on receiving the award was provided by Michael Gottlob of Amnesty International, who spoke about the ongoing situation in Bhopal. He described how the catastrophe still persists today due to the contamination of soil and groundwater, with people still being poisoned by chemicals every day. Meanwhile, victims continue to suffer and the bereaved relatives of those who have died are still waiting for justice. He reiterated that not only was the original disaster a crime on the part of Union Carbide when they scandalously reduced security measures at the plant for the sake of profit, but that the continue denial of compensation for victims or rehabilitation of the site by Dow Chemical, who bought and merged with the Union Carbide Corporation in 2001, is also criminal.
Axel Köhler-Schnura, founding director and CEO of ethecon, quoted the rationale behind the presentation of the International ethecon Blue Planet Award 2019 to Rachna: “The human rights and environmental activist Rachna Dhingra (India) defends human and environmental rights and goes to war despite her own safety against injustice, state violence and corporate arbitrariness. She resolutely advocates not only for human and environmental rights but also the development of these universal fundamental rights, as it is for the benefit of the human community. She upholds morality and ethics and opposes Earth’s demise as a dead, uninhabitable planet. ethecon, in a world increasingly geared to profit as the only criterion of any decision and development, sees in the actions of Rachna Dhingra and the Sambhavna Trust team an outstanding contribution to the salvation and preservation of our Blue Planet.”
In her acceptance speech, Rachna highlighted the achievements of ordinary people in the chemically contaminated Bhopal: “Any success, such as access to clean tap water or the revision of legal proceedings against DowDuPont as those responsible for the 1984 chemical disaster, has only been possible thanks to the fighting spirit and endurance of the entire population of Bhopal.”
We wish to congratulate Rachna on receiving the ethecon Blue Planet Award 2019, as well as the ethecon Foundation for acknowledging the incredible work she has done for the people of Bhopal over the last 35 years. As always, we stand with Rachna and the people of Bhopal in their ongoing fight for justice in the face of these continued violations of both the environment and their human rights to life, health, and a life with dignity.