The survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy have condemned the Centre for failing to resolve lingering issues of the disaster and its survivors even as the tragedy completes 31 years on December 3.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, leaders of five organisations jointly fighting for the rights of the survivors denounced amendments proposed in environmental and labour laws by the Modi government, saying it would increase chances of recurrence of the tragedy in the country.
“By proposing self-certification by corporations under environmental and labour laws, the government will be encouraging them to become lax on safety norms and thus open possibilities of Bhopal-like industrial disasters,” said Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information & Action.
The organisations have condemned the lackadaisical attitude of the central government on cleaning up of hazardous waste on and around premises of the abandoned Union Carbide factory that spewed loads of toxic gases on the intervening night of December 2/3, 1984, killing hundreds and maiming thousands.
“The Prime Minister talks about cleaning every corner of the country but his Swachhata Abhiyaan does not concern itself with the thousands of tonnes of poisonous waste buried in and around the Bhopal factory,” said Safreen Khan of Children against Dow - Carbide.
President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Rashida Bee said, “The Bhopal chief judicial magistrate has thrice sent notices to Dow Chemical for appearance but the Indian government has failed to make it appear in court.” she said.
Sarangi added that after death of Warren Anderson, the erstwhile chairman of Union Carbide Corporation last year, the organisations have petitioned to the government to extradite John McDonald, the erstwhile secretary of the company as the authorized official responsible for the disaster. “No action has been taken,” he said.
The leaders claimed that CBI under Modi has deliberately discharged Dow Chemical’s Indian subsidiary from a criminal case of bribery, showing its laxity towards big corporations. They also pointed at the failure of the Centre to make use of UNEP’s offer to carry out a comprehensive scientific assessment of the ongoing toxic contamination in and around the abandoned factory.
Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha and Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha were also present.