By now, no one can now deny the central role of government in harming its own citizens — the victims of Union Carbide.
It’s vital that rules be carved out for greater accountability. But let’s not forget that there are still thousands, even young children, in Bhopal who need real action on the ground fast.
There is extremely hazardous waste — both above ground and underground — seeping in the water and bodies of these people. Many of them were not even born in 1984, yet they suffer as everything is poisoned.
I believe there is no alternative to a team that comprises not just government-appointed members, but an equal number of persons selected by the victims. This team must determine the many forms of rehabilitation — not just compensation and treatment, but also, clearing the toxic pool.
Given that India’s environment rules, including the drafts on electronic waste, are based on the Extended Producer Responsibility, there is no reason why we shouldn’t apply our official thinking to an old tragedy. Let the liability belong to Dow. There is no shortcut to justice.
Cool Green Gizmos
Last week, I saw a range of green gizmo-clocks powered by water and portable mobile phone chargers run on solar. I found them fascinating as they depended on sunlight in homes and wind in fairly still places to be recharged. Despite sub-optimal forms of energy, they worked. But, nifty as they looked, none of them was impacting climate change because they were simply products that were not replacing existing needs.
Many of us get swayed by cool devices. But it is key for us to remember that the issue in India, where 50 per cent of households don’t have access to energy, is the right to clean energy. That’s where policy makers should put their money and not in creating more consumer products.