Bhopal gas tragedy: 34 years on, the fight for justice continues

World most horrific industrial disaster continues to haunts the survivors, their children and grandchildren. Observing the 34th Anniversary of the Bhopal Gas tragedy, the victims blaming the BJP and Congress government rued that nothing has changed for them even after thirty-four years as they continue to fight for justice denied to them. Representatives of the organizations fighting for survivors accused the government of inaction saying that it may lead to Union Carbide escaping criminal liability for the 1984 holocaust forever.

Earlier BJP used to blame Congress for not taking any initiative in bringing justice to gas victims, but the saffron party after coming to power at the Centre is following the footsteps of the previous government, said the activists fighting for the cause of gas victims.

Ever since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, the government is shielding the criminal corporate house responsible for the world’s worst industrial disaster and becoming more and more indifferent towards the victims, said the activists. Representatives of the organizations fighting for survivors accused Modi of having close association with Dow Chemical.

Modi’s special association with Dow Chemical, Union Carbide’s owner, is known since he was the chief minister of Gujarat where Dow tried to set up a joint venture with Gujarat Chemicals and Alkalis in 2008, alleged the activists. Now, as the Prime Minister, Modi is known to have invited Dow Chemical’s CEO to a special dinner and photo-op during one of his visits to US in 2015, they added.

Sati Nath Sadangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action, said PMO did not take any step to check the possibility of the US Corporation escaping criminal liability for the disaster forever following the trifurcation of Dow-DuPont. Dow Chemical, the owner of Union Carbide, after merging with another American multinational DuPont has announced plans to split into three entities, the process is scheduled to begin two months from now and following this the Union Carbide, as per criminal law, will cease to be criminally liable, said Sadangi.

“Since May 2014, summons issued repeatedly by the Bhopal District court against Dow Chemical, to produce absconding Union Carbide, continue to be ignored.  Modi has failed to get the US Government’s Department of Justice to serve the summons on Dow Chemical as it is obliged to do under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed between India and USA in 1991.” Said Sadangi.

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said “In 2010 the Congress government realised that the Bhopal victims had not been adequately compensated and filed a Curative Petition in the Supreme Court seeking additional compensation of 1.2 billion dollars.

However, neither the Congress nor the BJP governments have filed any application for urgent hearing in the last eight years and the Curative Petition has not moved an inch since it was filed, said Dhingra. “Quite clearly the government is protecting the best interests of the American corporations over the legal rights of the victims,” she alleged.

Linking the disaster in Bhopal with that of industrial pollution, leaders of the organisations said that the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health’s latest report places industrial pollution as one of the top five causes of death worldwide. “In Bhopal, over 90 per cent of industrial pollution is a consequence of the corporate world’s criminal indifference towards environment and public health. In order to reduce pollution it is required to be called by its real name, Corporate Crime, and it should be dealt accordingly,” they said.

Guv remembers Gas victims, pays tributes

Governor Anandiben Patel paid rich tributes to the victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy and prayed for better and healthy life of survivors. Patel said that the world’s most horrific tragedy has caught the attention of all the countries towards environment and industrial security. Taking lesson from the world’ s biggest industrial disaster that occurred here at the Union Carbide Company, all governments should publicise information pertaining to health hazards, precautions and relief before setting up such industrial units, said the Governor. She also called upon to ensure proper measures and steps to check recurrence of such horrific accident in future.

Prayer meet today

To mark the 34th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, a prayer meet will be organized at Barkatullah Bhavan, Central Library at 10.30 am on Monday . Chief Secretary B.P. Singh and others administrative officials besides others will pay tributes to persons who lost life in the world’s worst disaster.

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