The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website: www.365act.com

01 July 2008

Support the Bhopal victims

The Bhopal Disaster of 1984 was an industrial disaster caused by the accidental release of 40 tonnes of Methyl Isocyanate from a Union Carbide India pesticide plant (50.9% owned by the Union Carbide corporation) located in the heart of the city of Bhopal, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

According to the Bhopal Medical Appeal, around 500,000 people were exposed to the leaking chemical. The death toll was estimated by the BBC at nearly 3,000 people who died immediately and at least 15,000 from related illnesses subsequently, although this may be a conservative estimate. Over 120,000 people continue to suffer from the effects of the disaster – such as breathing difficulties, cancer, serious birth-defects, blindness, gynaecological complications and other related problems.

Alongside the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Bhopal rates as the major industrial disaster of the 20th century. After a fight, some compensation was obtained from Union Carbide, but it was not nearly enough and many of the victims found it hard to access. Nearly 25 years later, teh disaster is still causing misery.

After marching more than 500 miles from Bhopal to Delhi, a group survivors and their children, with ages ranging from 6-year old Nagma to eighty-plus year old Gulabo Bai, sat at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for over 70 days in Spring and Summer 2008 to highlight the unresolved issues of the Bhopal disaster, braving dust storms and heavy rainfall. They asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh even before they began their march to Delhi. They are demanding the formation of a Special Commission on Bhopal, and for legal action to be taken against Dow Chemical Company, the successor company to Union Carbide which inherited the liability for the ongoing consequences of the disaster.

The Prime Minister remained deaf to their pleas. Then nine of the survivors and supporters began an indefinite hunger strike in Delhi starting on June 10. You can read more about the march, sit-in and campaign at www.bhopal.net.

Penelope Doyle decided to fast for one day on 29 June 2008 in solidarity with the survivors of Bhopal. She became part of the International Hunger Strike Relay. And she writes as follows: “I am doing my part to express my support with the survivors. I am writing to ask you to help in whatever capacity possible.” Here are some of the ways that you could support Penelope and the Bhopal Survivors:

1. Join the International Hunger Fast and sign up to fast for a day or more at www.bhopal.net/2008hungerstrike.html

2. Donate to the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. Please send the money that you would spend on a day’s worth of food to support the Bhopalis’ struggle by going to www.panna.org/system/onlineDonationBhopal.html

3. Call the Prime Minister of India's office to express your disappointment in India’s leaders who are supposed to be there to help the people. Call from overseas at: +91-11-2301 8939 or +91-11-2301-1166. Or send an online fax to the Prime Minster's office at
www.boston4bhopal.org/write_fax.php

4. Spread the word. If you create awareness as a first step, then action will follow. Visit the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal website www.bhopal.net and the Bhopal Medical Appeal website at www.bhopal.org for more information. Or for the Union Carbide viewpoint and their statement about the disaster, go to: www.bhopal.com

5 Comments:

Anonymous BhopalJustice said...

See www.thetruthaboutdow.org for deeper, more revealing information on various abuses perpetrated by Dow Chemical around the world and the truth about how they dodge any corporate responsibility.

6:23 pm  
Anonymous nick said...

It's a shame even though Bhopal suffered just as much as Chernobyl did, it didn't receive as much support or media credibility as did Chernobyl. I saw on the Bhopal.net that just last month, Pune police conducted a terror campaign against any anti-DOW villagers. Didn't the government promise compensations for the villagers when they marched towards Delphi? Also, I read somewhere that the DOW was to pay the affected villagers so much money but the vilagers have only received a sixth of the total amount. This is really irresponsible on the government and DOW's behalf. The United Nation or some other international organization should put pressure on both groups to provide a sufficient level of aid for the villagers who have suffered much over these years.

7:16 am  
Anonymous nick said...

It's a shame even though Bhopal suffered just as much as Chernobyl did, it didn't receive as much support or media credibility as did Chernobyl. I saw on the Bhopal.net that just last month, Pune police conducted a terror campaign against any anti-DOW villagers. Didn't the government promise compensations for the villagers when they marched towards Delphi? Also, I read somewhere that the DOW was to pay the affected villagers so much money but the vilagers have only received a sixth of the total amount. This is really irresponsible on the government and DOW's behalf. The United Nation or some other international organization should put pressure on both groups to provide a sufficient level of aid for the villagers who have suffered much over these years.

7:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excerpts from Hindu Newspaper:

Dow Chemical out of drinking water project in Chickaballapur
Citizens were apprehensive about its ‘free of cost’ involvement in the project


CHICKABALLAPUR: Union Minister for Law and Justice M. Veerappa Moily has bailed himself out of an imminent controversy in the nick of time by deciding not to use the services of Dow Chemical International Private Ltd., the Indian arm of the $54 billion U.S.-headquartered multinational company, for setting up water purification plants in Chickaballapur district.
A few days ago, Mr. Moily had announced at a press conference that over 100 villages in Chickaballapur district, which has high fluoride content in water, would get pure and safe drinking water as Dow Chemical had agreed to set up water purification plants in the district, free of cost. Mr. Moily, who represents Chickaballapur in the Lok Sabha, had said the administration would provide only the land required for setting up the plants for the company, which had taken up similar projects in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
Subsequently, some prominent citizens from Chickaballapur district, led by London-based doctor Madhu Seethappa of Chintamani, raised doubts over Dow Chemical’s willingness to set up water purification units free of cost. It was alleged that Dow Chemical, the present owner of the Bhopal-based Union Carbide, was involved in serious litigation and the files relating to those cases were pending with the Union Law Ministry.
Apprehensions were expressed that the company had come forward to take up the project free of cost in Chickaballapur as it happened to be the constituency of the Union Law Minister.
Taking note of these developments, Mr. Moily told presspersons at Muddenahalli near here on Tuesday that as he was the Law Minister he had decided not to utilise the services of Dow Chemical in view of the company’s legal wrangles and also to clear public apprehensions. However, another company would soon be roped in to take up the project, he said.

Dr. Madhusudhan Seethappa can be reached at divsgm@hotmail.com

2:58 pm  
Blogger angel said...

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8:24 pm  

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