At a press conference today, five organizations working for the rights of the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster called upon the state and central governments to urgently respond to the juridical issues concerning the gas disaster and the ongoing contamination of soil and groundwater.
Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that on 30th July, Justice Keenan in the Southern District Court of New York dismissed the matter concerning contamination of soil and ground water in and around the Union Carbide factory. According to him, the 17 plaintiffs from Bhopal represented by US based attorneys from– EarthRights International, Sharma & Deyoung LLP, and the Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko will appeal against the unjust order before the second circuit court of appeals.
“The state government was served notice by the US court in early March but despite the Chief Minister’s declaration in the Assembly in 2010, the government made no efforts to present the case for clean up of the Union Carbide factory site and its surroundings till the matter was dismissed.” said Rachna Dhingra from the Bhopal Group for Information & Action, a solidarity organization. “The state government can still appear before the court during the appeal process and make Union Carbide and/or Dow Chemical pay for their reckless dumping of hazardous wastes. ” she said.
The organizations also called for the Prime Minister’s urgent intervention in the matter of the Curative Petition for compensation that is listed for hearing before the Supreme Court on August 5. They have asked him to issue directions to ensure filing of an application before the Supreme Court for amendment of the Curative Petition.
According to Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, amendment of the petition is essential for correct figures of death and injury caused by the disaster to be presented before the apex court. “If the judges do not get to know how much damage Union Carbide caused how can they make the company pay adequate compensation?” she asks.
Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that the governments of the state and the centre have downplayed the numbers of death and extent of injury caused by the gas disaster. “The Prime Minister can stop a great injustice by ensuring that an application for revision of injury and death figures is submitted by August 5 at the hearing in the Supreme Court.” he said.
“These two matters in the US Federal court and the Supreme Court have both come up unannounced so we have sent faxes to both the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister calling for their intervention. We hope they will listen to us in this year of the 30th anniversary of the disaster.” said Safreen Khan, founder of Children Against Dow Carbide, an organization of second generation victims.
Letter to the Prime Minister from the five organizations working for the rights of the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster August 01, 2014
Honourable Prime Minister,
Government of India,
New Delhi 110 011
August 1, 2014
Sub. Urgent Directions for Filing of Application for Amending Civil Curative Petition No 345-347/2010 for Additional Compensation before Supreme Court on August 5, 2014.
On behalf of the survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal we wish to draw your urgent attention to the hearing of the Curative Petition filed by the Government of India on December 3, 2010 that is scheduled to be heard on August 5, 2014.
For the last several years we have attempted to apprise the Prime Minister’s office that the figures of exposure related deaths and injuries in the Curative Petition filed by the Government of India are wrong and without any basis.
The government’s curative petition mentions a figure of 5,295 deaths caused by the disaster, which happens to be one fourth of the figures of death reported by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in its epidemiological report published in 2004. Likewise, the petition mentions that 93 % of the victims were only temporarily injured which is against the findings of the ICMR.
You can stop a great injustice being done to the Bhopal victims by issuing directions for filing an application before the Supreme Court on August 5, 2014 for amendment of the Curative Petition. Figures based on ICMR’s scientific research can then be incorporated in the amended Curative Petition.
We request you to issue directions to concerned officials in the Ministry of Chemical & Fertilizers for filing an application before the Supreme Court for amendment of the Curative Petition on August 5, 2014.