Pages

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Indian government on Friday approved a proposal for a German environmental agency to dispose of over 350 tonnes of TOXIC waste produced by the Bhopal factory where a gas leak killed thousands in 1984.The accident was blamed on the factory's opera



The Indian government on Friday approved a proposal for a German environmental agency to dispose of over 350 tonnes of TOXIC waste produced by the Bhopal factory where a gas leak killed thousands in 1984.The accident was blamed on the factory's operators, Union Carbide, a US chemical group later bought by Dow Chemical.Thus the government of India not only bailed out Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals, but it did set the trend for Future also.Nuclear Liability Bill provides enough Escape Routes for MNCs to avert liabilities. But who would Pay for the Disposal of the Poison stinking in Bhopal since 1984? The Gas Victims are not adequate compensation as yet.Nuclear and Industrial disasters in future have to be addressed in the best interest of the erring MNCs, it has been rather Ensured.As per the decision, the Centre will pay Rs 25 crore towards the cost of airlifting the waste which will be removed within a year.
Indian Holocaust My Father`s Life and Time - Eight HUNDRED THIRTY SIX


Palash Biswas

http://indianholocaustmyfatherslifeandtime.blogspot.com/



http://basantipurtimes.blogspot.com/

The Indian government on Friday approved a proposal for a German environmental agency to dispose of over 350 tonnes of TOXIC waste produced by the Bhopal factory where a gas leak killed thousands in 1984.The accident was blamed on the factory's operators, Union Carbide, a US chemical group later bought by Dow Chemical.Thus the government of India not only bailed out Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals, but it did set the trend for Future also.Nuclear Liability Bill provides enough Escape Routes for MNCs to avert liabilities. But who would Pay for the Disposal of the Poison stinking in Bhopal since 1984? The Gas Victims are not adequate compensation as yet.Nuclear and Industrial disasters in future have to be addressed in the best interest of the erring MNCs, it has been rather Ensured.As per the decision, the Centre will pay Rs 25 crore towards the cost of airlifting the waste which will be removed within a year.

Home Minister P. Chidamabaram and other senior ministers met in New Delhi to clear a deal in which the waste will be taken by air to Germany for incineration.

"The ministers have given a green signal," a senior home ministry official told AFP, declining to be named.

"The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) has been awarded the contract to transport the waste to Germany for disposal," he said.


On the other hand,in a new Twist Government of India has expressed its unwillingness to seek extradition of Warren Anderson, the Prime accused of the greatest Industrial disaster.He was declared a fugitive from justice by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal on February 1, 1992, for failing to appear at the court hearings in a culpable homicide case in which he was named the chief defendant.The chief judicial magistrate of Bhopal, Prakash Mohan Tiwari, issued an arrest warrant for Anderson on July 31, 2009.The United States has declined to extradite him citing a lack of evidence.In August 2009, a UCC spokesperson said "Union Carbide had no role in operating the plant at the time as the factory was owned, managed and operated by employees of Union Carbide India Limited." Eight former senior employees of the subsidiary were found guilty on June 7, 2010. After these convictions, a UCC spokesperson said, "All the appropriate people from UCIL – officers and those who actually ran the plant on a daily basis – have appeared to face charges."While top guns of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) and those involved in plant operations on the night of December 2-3, 1984, have been indicted by the court, Warren Anderson, who was chairman and chief executive officer of Union Carbide Corporation (which owned the majority stake in UCIL) when the Bhopal gas disaster took place, is not among the guilty.In fact, he was not even tried since he is absconding. On hearing about the gas leak, the US-based Anderson had flown down on December 4 and was arrested on landing in New Delhi. He was, however, soon granted bail and flew back on December 7, never to be seen in India again!His escape created uproar, with the opposition cornering the government for not opposing the bail.

Under attack over inadequate relief to the victims of the Under attack over inadequate relief to the victims of the tragedy, Chidambaram said, "It would be totally wrong to say that nothing had been done for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims since the GoM came into existence." "The GoM has been formed for some limited purposes and its brief is not to go beyond them. The brief includes adequate compensation for the victims and handling cases related to the disaster," he said. Answering questions about the extradition of then CEO of Union Carbide Corporation, Warren Anderson, the Minister said Anderson was now about 90 and was suffering from various problems including old age and debility. Under these circumstances, it remains to be seen what can actually be done for Anderson's extradition, he said. The three Union Ministers visited the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) to take stock of the situation there. Referring to BMHRC, Chidambaram said it was earlier being run by a trust but now it has been taken over by the Union Ministry of Public Health and Family Welfare. The Minister admitted BMHRC was facing many problems like shortage of doctors and equipment. The members of organisation representing gas victims showed black flags to the GoM to protest the delay in solving their problems.


Bhopal was the scene of the world's worst industrial accident in 1984 when the pesticide factory leaked toxic gas into nearby slums, killing thousands instantly and tens of thousands more over the following years.Tonnes of chemical waste previously produced by the plant was left in pits around the site, polluting local water supplies.Residents have been campaigning for years for the thorough clean-up of the factory and the surrounding area.GIZ, which will be paid by the Indian government, will negotiate details of the deal with the Madhya Pradesh state government, of which Bhopal is the capital.Many experts believe that the presence of toxic waste has resulted in a high prevalence of birth defects and illnesses among successive generations of people living near the plant.

About 346 metric tonnes of toxic waste is lying within the premises of the erstwhile M/s Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) at Bhopal. The worst-ever industrial disaster in India had taken place at the Union Carbide plant on the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984.According to government data, a total compensation of over Rs 3,000 crore has been given in 5,295 cases of death, 4,902 cases of permanent disability, 5,27,894 cases of minor injury and 35,455 cases related to temporary disability among others.

Bhopal gas tragedy victims are demanding adequate compensation, rehabilitation, medical care and punishment to the guilty. Bhopal Gas Pidit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti (BGPSSS) and CITU, was addressed by CPI(M) Parliamentary Group leader Basudeb Acharia and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat alleged Bhopal gas tragedy victims  were subjected to unethical drug trials and claimed fraudulent use of victims' identity cards to benefit non gas victims. India's home affairs minister, P Chidambaram, yesterday said it was unfair to say that the government had "not taken any steps for the disposal of toxic waste" from the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal.On May 29, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the government to clean up the waste, saying the problem had been ignored for 28 years "because the victims of Bhopal gas tragedy are poor".

The constant pressure brought to bear upon Dow apparently spurred the company to hire a research firm to spy on Bhopal activists.

In February, WikiLeaks published internal emails from the global intelligence company Stratfor, which showed that Dow had been paying Stratfor to monitor Bhopal activists and to track media coverage of the gas disaster.

Dow Chemical Co should pay for the disposal of toxic waste from a chemical plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal and not the Indian government, Greenpeace India says.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that the Indian government should use public funds to pay for cleaning up the mess left by Union Carbide," spokesman Rampati Kumar said.

The gas leak in 1984 at the Union Carbide Corp plant in the capital of Madhya Pradesh state killed at least 15,000 people. Union Carbide was taken over by US-based Dow in 2001.

Kumar was reacting to the Indian government's negotiations with GIZ, the German government's international development agency, for the disposal of 350 tons of waste from the Bhopal plant, most likely in Germany.

The waste in question is not connected to the deadly methyl isocyanate gas that leaked from the plant but comes from the indiscriminate dumping of chemicals from 1969 to 1984, according to environmental activists.

"We have to follow the 'polluter pays' principle," Kumar said. "Why should the Indian people pay for this?"

Greenpeace Germany, however, disagreed with Kumar on his approval of transporting the waste outside India.

"We don't want highly toxic substances to be transported half way across the globe," activist Manfred Santen said.

Victims of India's 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy met with Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday and called for toxic waste from the pesticide factory site to finally be cleared up.Hundreds of residents, including survivors of the world's worst industrial disaster, marched through the city of Bhopal during Chidambaram's visit, which coincided with World Environment Day.The plant leaked toxic gas into neighbouring slums, killing thousands instantly and tens of thousands more over the following years.The accident was blamed on operators Union Carbide, a US chemical group later bought by Dow Chemical.

Rashida Bi, 57, a member of the victims' organisation Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, said she had a meeting yesterday with Salman Khurshid, the minister of law, and Mr Chidambaram during which she demanded that the government revise the official number of victims affected by the Bhopal crisis.

"The danger lies in tomorrow," said Mrs Bi. "There are children still being born with deformities. It is tough getting girls married off, and when they have deformed babies, everyone panics again."

The meeting coincided with World Environment Day and hundreds of residents of Bhopal marched through the city during Mr Chidambaram's visit.

"It is not just the toxic waste," said Mrs Bi. "We also demanded that the waste not be disposed off anywhere in India. There is also a matter of people still getting sick as tonnes of hazardous waste is still on the ground and seeping into the groundwater."

The Bhopal Group for Information and Action, the organisation that filed the case to have the waste removed, has been trying since 1990 to have the waste cleared and for clean drinking water to be provided.

The May court ruling is a major victory for the group's attempt to get Dow Chemicals, which purchased Union Carbide in 2001, to pay additional damages.

"Dow propaganda had said that there was no contamination of the drinking water in Bhopal — but now the Supreme Court has established that the water was polluted by the gas disaster. This helps set some sort of precedent," Rachna Dhingra, a member of the group said yesterday.

Other victim advocacy groups and the state government of Madhya Pradesh, where Bhopal is located, have also expressed outrage that Dow Chemicals is sponsoring the Olympic Games in London in July and August.

Indian athletes and the country's Olympic committee had threatened to boycott the games, but they have since backed down.

Ms Dhingra said that her group plans to hold an Olympics of its own to draw attention to the alleged damage Dow Chemicals has done to people across the globe.

"We're trying to get children who have been poisoned by Dow, from across the world, to come here and participate in a two-day special Olympics," said Ms Dhingra. "It's difficult. We're trying to get children from Vietnam, from the US, from Nicaragua. It's a small thing, but it will be a statement."
.

Madhya Pradesh Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Babulal Gaur said that the GoM under the chairmanship of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has asked the state government to prepare an agreement within two weeks' time.Friday's GoM was attended by Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal besides some senior officials of the central and state government departments.


The GIZ, based in Bonn, is a government-run enterprise that works on international environmental issues and sustainable development.

"The proposal has been agreed to. The waste will be disposed off in Germany. The cost of Rs 25 crore for airlifting the toxic material will be borne by the central government. The whole procedure of removing the waste will be completed within a year," Mr Gaur told reporters in New Delhi after the meeting.He said the state government will submit the agreement to the Centre before the next meeting.According to Madhya Pradesh government officials, the disposal would be carried out by German agency GIZ IS.

Chidambaram, who was in Bhopal along with GoM members and union ministers Salman Khurshid and V Narayanasamy to take stock of the situation, told reporters that the Madhya Pradesh government was in talks with German company GIZ International which had shown interest in waste disposal.

"The Centre had spoken to the governments of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra but all of them refused to allow disposal of the toxic waste," the home minister said.

Chidambaram also disclosed that the state government will soon make a presentation before the Centre to seek its clearance on this issue. The ministers visited gas tragedy connected places including Bhopal memorial hospital which was built for treatment of gas tragedy victims.

Chidambaram defended the government facing flak over inadequate relief to the victims, by saying, "It would be totally wrong to say that nothing had been done for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims since the GoM came into existence." The union minister indicated that the Centre has given up Union Carbide Corporation CEO Warren Anderson' extradition. Anderson was now 90 and suffering from various ailments, like old age and debility.

The government has to inform the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition on the issue, on the steps it has taken to dispose off the waste from the plant.

"Union Carbide documents show that the problem of toxic contamination originated sometime in 1982. The first official study of contamination was done in 1991 by the State Research Laboratory of the Public Health Engineering department, Government of Madhya Pradesh. The first practical step, of collecting the scattered hazard waste in one warehouse, was done in 2005, more than a decade after the disaster," activists like Sarangi, Rashid Bi, Nawab Khan said in a signed letter to Chidambaram.

Going by this slow speed, it will take another 20 years to resolve ground water contamination as it would involve pumping out ground water for treatment, they said.
The MP government has also been asked by the MHA to update them on the naxal menace in the state.

Journalist Shakti Bhatt located former Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson's luxury home in New York, declared unknown by the American and Indian governments, in India Abroad, the newspaper owned by Rediff.com, back in September 2002.


As a Bhopal court convicted eight people on Monday, June 7, for the worst-ever industrial disaster, Rediff.com reproduced the global scoop:

Warren Anderson's home in Bridgehampton, New York, militates against the notion of a hiding place.

Located on a street that runs off the main road, the gates of the house are open. As you enter, the neatly trimmed garden flowers, alternatively red and white, vie for attention with the sparkling vintage Buick Roadmaster parked outside the door.

If you stroll around the house, you come upon a large freshly cut lawn with two full-size beach chairs. The curtains in the bedroom are drawn. A king size bed with cream sheets and satin blue pillows, flanked by an ornate headboard, has just been tidied.

Anderson and his wife Lillian live in this luxury home in the Hamptons, the weekend resort for the rich and famous. And, occasionally, the infamous.

Anderson has lived here since he was charged with 'culpable homicide' for the disaster at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal in December 1984 that consumed the lives of over 20,000 people. If Anderson -- then Union Carbide CEO -- is ever extradited to India, he could face charges leading to 10 to 20 years in a dirty, overcrowded, rat-infested Indian prison.

Bridgehampton is an intensely private neighbourhood. An outsider driving around its roads is distinctly discernible and stared at. A five-minute walk from Anderson's home on Ocean Road takes you to the water. A man is perched in his red sports jeep, reading a golf magazine.

"Do you know Warren Anderson?" I ask him.

He looks up, a trifle annoyed at being disturbed. "Yeah. I mean we are not best friends but I know who he is," he says.

I begin to walk away. He stops me and says, "You know, yesterday there was this woman outside his home with a poster saying 'Go back to India'."

"Do you know why?" I ask.

"Nope. That is his business,' says the gray-haired man, and goes back to his magazine.

Anderson was declared an absconding fugitive by the Bhopal magistrate's court in February 1992, after he failed to turn up despite repeated summons. On July 31, 2009, magistrate Prakash Mohan Tiwari issued an arrest warrant for him. The US government, however, made no move to extradite Anderson, while India never appeared to press the matter.

New Delhi said it did not know his whereabouts and hence, could not comply with the arrest order. It, however, stood exposed when a TV channel showed Anderson living in a house at Bridgehampton outside New York with wife Lillian.

Last year, Lillian told a news agency that Anderson was deeply troubled by the tragedy. "He's been haunted for years" by the accident, she said. Lillian said Anderson, who is nearly 90 now, was in poor health and didn't remember much. "When you get to be 87 years old, you don't remember anything. You try to put bad things out of your mind," she said.

Lillian insisted her husband had been unfairly targeted. "Every time somebody wanted to sue Union Carbide, there would be some kind of a thing that happened and they would be chasing Warren, following him to the dump with our trash," she said. "This is 25 years of unfair treatment."

Even after the passage of 27 years, a consensus between the government and the NGOs on the number of victims of Bhopal gas disaster is elusive.
The leakage of methyl isocyanate gas from (since defunct) Union Carbide pesticides plant in Bhopal on the night of December 2 and 3 led to the worst industrial disaster in the world, in which thousands perished and many more suffered permanent ill-effects.

The two prominent NGOs which are fighting for the rights of the victims, namely, Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) and Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan, claim that actual figure of casualties is much higher than the official figure.

"Madhya Pradesh Government has put the death toll at 5,295 in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court," said Rachna Dhingra of BGIA.

But in another criminal petition filed in the apex court, government put the death toll at 15,248, she said, adding that it was for the government to tell which figure was correct.

According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which had conducted a study titled `Health Effects of the Toxic Gas Leak from the Union Carbide between 1985-1994', there were 2,500 deaths by 1985.

Around 3,500 `spontaneous abortions' took place during the period 1984-1989. "The report further shows that 9,667 people died between 1985-1993 due to the after-effects," Dhingra said.

According to her, even if it was assumed that death rate due to after-effects of the tragedy between 1994-2001 was down to half of what it was between 1985-1993, and to one-fourth between 2002-2009, another 7,250 deaths must be attributed to the tragedy.

Which meant, at least 22,917 persons had perished owing to the gas leak till 2009.

Similarly, the figure of those who suffered permanent/temporary injuries too was uncertain, she said.

Till 2004, over 3.5 lakh persons had approached Bhopal Memorial Hospital and other relief hospitals for treatment of gas-tragedy related ailments, Dhingra said.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan's convener, Abdul Jabbar, said that after the tragedy, 15,274 death claims and over 5.73 lakh claims for injuries were filed, and very few were rejected.

However, Madhya Pradesh minister for `Gas Tragedy and Relief', Babulal Gaur, said the government had arrived at the death figure only on the basis of medical certificates.

Jabbar said the actual figure must be higher. "God knows how long the survivors will have to wait for justice," he added.

Meanwhile, the anniversary of the disaster, an annual ritual which sees number of participants dwindling every year, would be observed tomorrow.

Every year, the day witnesses burning of effigies of the then Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson, processions and demonstrations at the defunct Union Carbide plant.

This year, some organisations have also decided to stage a rail-blockade for some time.

One of the organisations has decided to stage a dharna in front of official residence of Chief Minister.

The progress of the court cases related to the tragedy offer a telling comment on the slowness of the system. The Chief Judicial Magistrate's court here delivered judgement in the main criminal case only last June, sentencing the accused to two years' imprisonment.

Then the Centre filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court against `dilution' of charges, but the Supreme Court said it should be heard by the district court. The matter is now before the district court.

The Supreme Court expressed its concern over the indifferent attitude shown by the Centre  and others in disposing of the toxic wastes lying at Bhopal's defunct Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) plant since 1984.

A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya asked the Centre to take the final decision in the matter by the end of June.

Saying that it did not want to run the government, the Bench observed, "You are not sure even after 28 years, it is because people affected and living in Bhopal are poor. It is a failure on your part to deal with this." The apex court had on May 11 put on hold its order directing disposal of 350 tonnes of toxic waste lying in the UCIL plant at the Pithampur waste treatment storage and disposal facility (TSDF) in Madhya Pradesh's Dhar district.

The Madhya Pradesh government as well as some NGOs had approached the apex court raising different issues including the environmental impact of such an exercise and the apprehension prevailing among the people with regard to the disposal of waste.

During the proceedings, the Centre submitted that it will soon decide on the issue as the GoM will be meeting on June 8.

"In Pithampur, people are bound to protest and, they are entitled to protest. You have not taken any decision. Even this affidavit of yours is so vague and you always say that you are hopeful," the Bench said.

"The court never wants and should never want to run the government. It is not our job. If media had continuously followed this like an environmental issue then the picture would have been different," the Bench said, adding that the affected people can approach the court for compensation.

The talks with India on the nuclear liability bill has addressed some of the American concerns, but not all, a senior US official has said.

"We've had a very strong dialogue on the liability legislation. That dialogue has relieved some of our concerns but not all of our concerns, and I think our companies still feel that there are impediments to moving ahead with the current law so we'll continue to work through that," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.

"But in the meantime we're focusing on trying to support our companies' efforts to sign early commercial agreements, things that do not require -- or are not impeded in any way by the existing liability legislation -- things like early engineering and other contracts that would be kind of precursors to a wider reactor contract," he said.

He was briefing lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on South Asia convened by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on the Middle East and South Asia.

"So there has been progress on that, and we hope that we can see some early conclusions to some of those contracts that would be quite important to our companies," he said responding to a question from Congressman Steve Chabot, Chairman of the Sub Committee.

"Secretary (of State, Hillary) Clinton discussed the issue on her visit last week with senior Indian leaders. She noted that we continue to have a very strong interest in supporting our companies' interests and moving ahead, particularly Westinghouse and General Electric.

"She was pleased to hear from India that they have restated their commitment to ensuring a level playing field for our companies," Blake said.