‘One Year to Go...’

One Year to Go for the Fourth Decade of Injustice and Suffering to begin. Corporations and Governments in USA and India must ensure justice and a Life of Dignity for the Bhopal survivors and their children, well before the Fourth Decade Begins.

25,000 dead and counting. 150,000 battling chronic illnesses. Tens of thousands poisoned. Tens of thousands of children with growth and developmental disorders, birth defects.

One Year for Union Carbide and Dow Chemical to ensure that they cease to abscond from justice and answer, through their designated officials, charges of manslaughter and grievous assault in the criminal case pending before the Bhopal District Court. They must respond positively to the Government of India's Curative Petition in the Supreme Court of India and make financial arrangements for compensating actual number of deaths and injuries caused as a result of the December 1984 gas disaster. The site of tragedy needs adequate funds for clean up of contaminated soil and ground water in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory and for health monitoring of the affected population.

The American administration must ensure that Warren Anderson, former Chairman of Union Carbide is extradited from USA to answer charges of manslaughter and grievous assault in the Bhopal District Court.

Dow Chemical and Union Carbide must pay penalties for the deaths and injuries caused by the 1984 gas disaster at rates comparable to those paid by British Petroleum for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

The Government of India has so far failed to constitute an empowered Commission on Bhopal with adequate funds, authority and participation of survivors' representatives for planning, implementation and monitoring medical, social, economic and environmental rehabilitation.

All hospitals run by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department are not adequately staffed, they don’t stock quality medicines.

Every person known to be injured by the disaster and / or exposed to contaminated ground water must receive a health book that ensures free health care at government run hospitals.

Nobody knows when Madhya Pradesh Government will provide all residents of the affected communities clean piped water.

No, persons in authority are not thinking in terms of welfare of gas victims in its totality. Nor would they like to antagonise the American Government under any circumstances. So Anderson will remain to immune to laws, both here and in America. He is above law. Meanwhile, the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster is approaching very fast. As for Indian political parties, both left and right, the less said the better. Their understanding is that it is the government that will do all the work. Even in election propaganda they don’t raise the issue of Bhopal tragedy as if it is a settled matter which it is not. Already the second generation is bearing the brunt of all-pervasive contamination and the tragedy will continue for years to come, affecting the next generation as well. Even communists seldom talk of ‘Black December in Bhopal’. They are more interested in making right permutation and combination in electoral battle. Only the victims themselves organised under four or five committees continue their struggle to expose government’s high-handedness and their shameless surrender to American pressure. It is the civil society and human rights groups that refuse to close the Bhopal chapter and it is because of them the sufferers of Bhopal gas disaster get national and international attention. It remains to be seen whether political parties, more precisely left parties rise to the occasion before the sufferers mark the 30th anniversary of the ‘Bhopal Killings’.  [contributed]

Vol. 46, No. 25, Dec 29 2013 -Jan 4, 2014

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