Students at Harvard University and community organizations have come together to organise a series of events to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster.
The groups launched a 365 day relay fast today in support of survivors of the Bhopal Gas Disaster, to draw attention to key survivor demands: clean-up of the contaminated site, medical relief and economic rehabilitation for all survivors, and prosecution of Dow Chemical, whose subsidiary Union Carbide’s pesticide factory was the site of the 1984 disaster.
The groups also held candlelight vigil and protest in Harvard Square, Cambridge which was attended by several dozen people.
Sunday’s candlelight vigil and the relay fast was organized by students from the Harvard Kennedy School in coordination with the Association for India’s Development (AID) and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB).
Speaking on the occasion of the anniversary Harvard graduate student Shashank Shukla said “It is unacceptable that 29 years after the disaster people are still being exposed to dangerous toxins.”
Shukla who has previously worked with the Supreme Court of India said that the coalition of groups is prepared to stand with survivors until justice is achieved in Bhopal. “The fast is both a means of expressing our collective outrage over what is happening in Bhopal as well as a vehicle to globally amplify the voices of the survivors”, he said.
Leonid Chindelevitch, a volunteer for ICJB said that Dow’s irresponsibility is setting a dangerous precedent for the future behavior of transnational corporations in India by showing that they can escape liability for the social and environmental harm caused by their actions.
While the situation on the ground in Bhopal remains a catastrophe, Nitin Gujaran, an AID volunteer and a software engineer working in the area is hopeful that the 30th anniversary year will energize a global movement for justice in Bhopal as well as increase awareness about other such disasters. “Bhopal teaches us about what happens in a toxic industrial society which prioritizes profits above all else”, he said “It is a reminder that in some ways we all live in Bhopal”.