Dow is paying out for Union Carbide liabilities in the US

July 4, 2010

In the Times of India:

Here is something for legal eagles of the government of India to chew on: while Dow Chemical Company denies any responsibility for damages caused by Union Carbide in Bhopal, it has taken over all liability of Carbide for fighting out over 75,000 asbestos related law suits in the US. Dow/Carbide expects to incur liability costs of $839 million in the coming years. They have already spent a whopping $687 million in litigation costs, besides paying out $1,480 million to an unspecified number of claimants till date. Carbide became a subsidiary of Dow through a merger in 2001.

These facts, gleaned from the mandatory annual filing (Form 10-k) for 2009 submitted by Dow to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the US on February 19, 2010, clearly establish that Dow has taken over Union Carbide liabilities for bodily damages caused by the latter’s commercial activities. In the case of Bhopal, Dow has consistently claimed that it had nothing to do with the massive gas leak disaster of December 3, 1984 in the pesticide plant run by Union Carbide.

Read the article here.

[Link via @BhopalMedAppeal]

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Calling Delhi

June 12, 2010

Saturday, 12 June 2010
16:00 – 19:00
Jantar Mantar

Join us for an Evening of songs of Freedom and Justice !

After 26 years and nearly two generations of untold sufferings, nightmares, pain, trauma, lost livelihoods and a historic fight for justice from Bhopal to all across the world the verdict is : to two years imprisonment and a fine of Rs. one lakh each under section 304(a), imprisonment of 3 months and a fine of Rs.250 under Sec 336, 6 months and Rs.500 under Sec 337 and 2 years and Rs.1,000 under Sec 338; all the sentences to run concurrently and UCIL to pay a paltry 5 Lakh rupees.

It’s shame for the judicial system and another blot on the secular, socialist democratic traditions of the country. It’s an insult to those who died, continue to die and rubs salt to unhealed wounds of those survived and who have struggled in face of unsurmountable odds for all these years. The citizens of Delhi and the whole country are enraged at this travesty of justice and petty politicking which has marred the worst industrial disaster in human history.

We call upon you all to join for an evening to express yourself on the streets of Jantar Mantar in words, verses, banners, posters, poems, songs or actions… we will perform a die-in action too demanding justice in Bhopal and light candles in memory of those who died and salute to those who continue to struggle and suffer. Let us join hands and stand up for justice in Bhopal.

If you’re on Facebook, the event page is here.

Leave a comment here if you’re organising, or know of, events elsewhere.


26 yrs on, Bhopal gas tragedy verdict on June 7

May 14, 2010

From CNN-IBN

Twenty-six years after the Bhopal gas tragedy which claimed thousands of lives, a local court trying the case would pronounce its verdict on June 7.
Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohan P Tiwari said Thursday he will pronounce the judgement on June seven on the toxic leak from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) factory (now defunct), after the arguments of prosecution, CBI, and defence of eight accused drew to a close in the 23-year-old trial.
During the trial, 178 prosecution witnesses were examined and 3,008 documents were exhibited.
CBI counsel C Sahay has argued that the world’s worst industrial disaster occurred due to defective design of the UCIL’s factory and poor maintenance.
Sahay told the court that the Union Carbide Corporation, USA, surveyed the UCIL’s Bhopal factory in 1982 and found serious safety and maintenance lapses on nearly 10 counts.
He contended that even after UCC experts’ team visit adequate safety measures and maintenance work did not take place in the UCIL.


Giving Dow a heart (Kids for a Better Future)

December 9, 2009


From the YouTube page:

On the 25th Anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Disaster, Kids for a Better Future tried to give hundreds of hearts to DOW Chemicals. With new hearts, the hoped that the heartless company would finally take responsibility for its mess in Bhopal, where they have killed 25,000 people and left another 150,000 seriously ill. Scared silly of these kids, the company closed down its offices for the day and ran for cover.

There’s also a photo album here, and a report here.

All links courtesy Akash and Gautam Mehta. As their father (who, by the way, wrote this a few days ago), said to us via email, “My children, Gautama (14) and Akash (11) are involved with activism around the Bhopal issue. Their work shows that Bhopal is not forgotten in America, and there’s a second generation that’s taking up the struggle for justice.”

(The Kids For a Better Future website)


25 years and still waiting (The Hindu)

December 2, 2009

25 years and still waiting, by Vidya Subrahmaniam in The Hindu

Mr. Anderson had been in hiding for ten years when Greenpeace, and before that a British newspaper, tracked him down. Mr. Harell would remark after the meeting: “If a team of journalists and Greenpeace managed to track down India’s most wanted man in a matter of days, how seriously have the U.S. authorities tried to find him in all these years? The U.S. has reacted swiftly on curbing the financial corporate crimes of Enron and WorldCom, but has clearly not made much of an effort to find Anderson, responsible for the deaths of 20,000 people in India.”

The searing comment underscored the dubious role played by the world’s most powerful democracy in protecting the key perpetrator of the world’s worst industrial disaster. Seventeen years after he was proclaimed an “absconder”, Mr. Anderson, now 88, continues to elude the long reach of the law. However, it is not just that the wheels of justice showed no inclination to move in the U.S. The Indian government has been no less lethargic in bringing Mr. Anderson to justice. It sent out a formal request for his extradition in May 2003, close to two decades after the crime. As Bhopal activist Nityanand Jayaraman would tell The Hindu on the 25th anniversary of the gas leak: “In the case of Anderson, the [Indian] government’s heart is just not on the job.”

Indeed, the Bhopal saga is a painful reminder of the unconscionable way justice plays out for the poor in this country — with victims fighting a battle so long and hard that justice has little meaning when it finally arrives.

Read the full piece.


Remembering Bhopal (LiveMint)

November 30, 2009

25 yrs on, a walk through the Carbide plant, Akshai Jain

Their story is the story of Bhopal, Akshai Jain

Bhopal Gas Tragedy | A tragic business, Akshai Jain

From Bhopal to London, quest for justice travels in a bottle, Pallavi Singh

The remains of the night, Akshai Jain


“India’s plan to open site of Bhopal chemical disaster brings protest”

November 29, 2009

Some extracts from a piece in the Washington Post:

Twenty-five years after poisonous plumes of chemicals leaked from the Union Carbide factory here, survivors are protesting a government plan to open the site to the public.
Officials said this week that visitors would be allowed to tour the plant to commemorate the disaster and help people come to terms with it.
“Just like we go to Hiroshima, Chernobyl and Ground Zero in New York to remember and pray for victims, so many people from around the world want to visit the Bhopal Union Carbide factory to learn about the disaster,” said Babulal Gaur, minister of relief and rehabilitation for the Bhopal victims.

and

After visiting the site in September, India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, told reporters: “I went inside, touched toxic material and I am still alive. I am not coughing.”
His remarks offended many survivor groups. “It is like saying, ‘I held a cigarette and did not get cancer.’ Many of the chemicals at the site are persistent organic pollutants that remain in the soil for hundreds of years,” said Satinath Sarangi, an activist.

and

Gaur said $25 million has been set aside for a museum inside the plant

Update (Via Students for Bhopal

Government will not open Bhopal plant as memorial (CNN)
Extract:

“Everyone wants to see the world’s worst industrial disaster,” said S.R. Mohanty, the secretary for the Relief and Rehabilitation Department for the Bhopal gas tragedy.
It was going to be the government’s way of reassuring its people that the plant no longer posed a threat to society.
But the move sparked protests from victim rights groups and environmental activists. Just days before the anniversary, government officials backed away from the plan they had recently announced.
The official reason, however, had little to do with the gas leak.
Mohanty cited an election rule currently in force that prohibits acts that could be construed as attempting to influence voters ahead of the polls. Bhopal’s municipal elections are scheduled for December.
The plant could still be opened at a later date.

Update (Via @BhopalMedAppealStudents for Bhopal

Dow Not to be ALLOWED to Clean up TOXIC waste (Business Standard)
Extract:

“We will not allow Dow to even enter the factory premises. Ours is an elected government of 6.5 million people,” Babulal Gaur, Bhopal gas relief and rehabilitation minister told BS

and

“Had he summoned up his courage against the company, the toxic waste would not have been lying there for years. He was an advocate of Union Carbide in 1982, he cannot speak against them and makes this kind of statement to appease the successor (Dow) now ,” Rasheeda Bi, managing trustee of Chingari Trust (an NGO fighting for survivors’ right) expressed his anger. Rasheeda Bi is a Goldman Environmental prize winner who has ignited the international campaign to seek justice for the disaster survivors.

Satinath Sarangi, who is also actively working for survivors for the last 25 years reacted, “Dow is responsible and the minister is also responsible to making Dow pay for clean up. It is his 180-degree turn from his earlier statement to make Dow pay for clean up.”

Recently the NGOs and survivors have expressed their anger over government’s announcement to open the premises for the public. Later, the government took a U-turn in view of the elections and said, “We will open the premises in January forever. We will open it for public from January as civic body elections are nearing. We will open it forever as we have High Court permission in this regard.”