The National Alliance of People’s Movements is shocked and enraged at the recent judgement on Bhopal that not only comes 26 years too late but also makes a complete mockery of the concept of justice and the value of human lives.
The Government of India can undo this gross injustice only if it, presses more severe charges on the accused and brings Warren Anderson (press for his extradition) and others to book. In addition, the Government must live upto the promise it made to the victims and their supporters across the world in 2008 by setting up an Empowered Commission on Bhopal to look into the matters of relief and rehabilitation and environmental impact mitigation especially in relation to water.
This judgement is an insult to the 15,000 who died, continue to die and rubs salt on the unhealed wounds of those who survived numbering more than 3 lakhs even today and struggled in the face of unsurmountable odds for all these years. The public outrage over the verdict from all sections of the society is nothing but an expression of disgust with a deeply rotten political class which seems incapable of doing anything except shedding crocodile tears.
Despite being in positions of power and responsibility at the Centre and in Madhya Pradesh all the Political parties cutting across party lines, whether it is Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janta party or any other, have always preferred to ignore the demands of the survivors for justice and a life with dignity by bringing not only the UCIL, but also Union Carbide of USA including its then CEO Anderson and also Dow Chemicals (present owner) and others involved. Instead of working towards the prosecution of Warren Anderson, the Indian government in fact pressurized CBI to go soft on the Corporation and dilute the charges. The result of this effort is now for the entire world to see in form of the Bhopal Verdict which would perhaps only be remembered for how lives of millions of countrymen and women was compromised by all the organs of the state for corporate interests.
It’s a shame that our government continues to baulk under pressure from the US government and tirelessly works towards shielding the interests of US corporations as is evident on many occasions such as during the power-purchase agreement with Enron, Indo-US Civil Nuclear Co-operation deal right up to the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill in its current form. Perhaps our Government should understand the diplomacy and duplicacy of US in applying double standard in dealing with the BP Oil Spillage in one hand and Bhopal Gas Tragedy on the other. We believe Corporate Social Responsibility is not the way forward but instead corporate accountability is. Corporations, however big they are, cannot muddle with people’s rights and destroy the natural resource base on which people’s lives are dependent. It is time that the GoI is questioned on and compelled to, in consultation with people and their organisations, enact a new law making the corporations liable for the damages they incur on people and environment and send a strong message that people’s lives and justice are paramount.
We endorse the demand of the Bhopal gas disaster survivors and urge the Prime Minister to
1.create a Special Prosecution Cell in the CBI for effective and timely action on extradition of foreign accused and collection and presentation of evidence against the foreign accused.
2.direct CBI to move on extradition of authorized representative of UCC and resend extradition request for Warren Anderson.
3.direct CBI to follow the assets of Union Carbide Eastern Inc. to ensure that the representatives of the accused corporation face criminal trial.
4.direct CBI to take action on illegal trading of UCC technology in India.
5.direct CBI to take legal action so that summons issued against Dow Chemical, USA can be delivered.
6.Set up the Empowered Commission on Bhopal to look into all aspects of the disaster including relief and rehabilitation as was promised by the Prime Minister yet betrayed.
We are also concerned at the seeming collusion of the judiciary with the Government that amounted to reducing the charges in the Bhopal Case, at the inordinate delay in delivering the judgement and finally failure in delivering justice. We need to remember that the role of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust, headed by Justice Ahmedi who delivered the judgement in 1996 absolving UCC from criminal liability, has time and again come under criticism for discrimination against the gas victims and financial mismanagement. (http://bhopal.net/delhi-marchers/factsheets/BMHT%20sheet.pdf) We demand a thorough and impartial inquiry into this matter and an expedition of medical services to the gas victims.
We would like to remind that even today we are sitting at the verge of many potentially Bhopal-like disasters like nuclear power projects at Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Haripur: and also chemical and petroleum projects at Nayachar and PCPIR on the coast of Andhra Pradesh and other such chemical and nuclear hubs all across the country. We firmly believe that unless these projects are cancelled or grounded at their planning stage itself we will continue to witness situations like Bhopal and put the lives of our countrymen and women to greater risks. The GoI must stand by the stricter implementation of Environment Protection Act to monitor various projects in the country, neither succumb to pressure from other ministries nor compromise the interests of the people in favour of Corporations and other petty political compulsions as we continue to witness in various infrastructure, hydropower, thermal power, and nuclear energy projects.
No More Bhopals ! Salute, solidarity and all support to the indomitable spirit of struggling Bhopalis …
Aruna Roy (MKSS), Medha Patkar (NBA), Sandeep Pandey (NAPM UP), Maj Gen (Retd) S.G.Vombatkere (NAPM Karnataka), Anand Mazgaonkar (NAPM Gujarat), P Chennaiah, B Ramakrishna Raju, (NAPM – AP), Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar (NAPM Delhi), Prafulla Samantara (NAPM Orissa), Suniti S R (NAPM Maharashtra), Akhil Gogoi (Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, NAPM – Assam), Gabriel Dietrich (NAPM – TN)