The survivors of the Union Carbide gas leak tragedy have hit upon a novel way to get their point across to the Establishment. As part of their campaign called “Jhooth bole kauwa kaate”, the leaders of three survivor organisations have invited the entire State Cabinet and bureaucracy to a “benign buffet” this Saturday. As part of this weekend “pest fest”, the invitees would be able to feast on such delicacies as “Semi-Processed Pesticide on Watercress” and “Lime Sludge Mousse”!
Also invited are the Director of the Defence Research Development Establishment (DRDE), Gwalior, Dr. R. Vijayraghavan, and the Director of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, who purportedly have certified Union Carbide’s chemical wastes orally ingestible.
The Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh (BGPMSKS), the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha (BGPMPSM) and the Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) intend to organise the feast in protest against “false and misleading” reports of DRDO and NEERI and as a challenge to constant reiteration by the State and Central governments about the chemical waste lying on the Union Carbide factory premises as being harmless.
Rashida Bi of BGPMSKS, Syed Irfan of BGPMPSM and Rachna Dhingra of BGIA hope it will not be long before they succeed in making Dow Chemical clean up the poisons from Bhopal, get prime accused Warren Anderson extradited from the US, persuade the Centre to speed up appointment of the Empowered Commission on Bhopal and expose the “lies” being allegedly spread by the Madhya Pradesh Government.
Accusing Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, his ministerial colleagues Kamal Nath and Jairam Ramesh, and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwahlia of being lackeys of Dow Chemical, the organisations have condemned the Indian Government’s “collusion” with the two American multinationals as it was coming in the way of justice for the Bhopal survivors.
They said while the Indian Government officially holds Dow Chemical liable for Union Carbide’s environmental crimes in Bhopal and has sought $22 million as advance payment for a clean-up, it has taken no steps against the Indian subsidiaries of Dow Chemical. They point out that Dow Chemical paid $350,000 in fines to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for having paid $200,000 as bribes to Indian Government officials and “yet the Indian Government has not taken action against this”.
They allege that the “ridiculous reports” of NEERI and DRDO, prepared so that the State Government could get the High Court to allow opening up of the factory premises, state that a person weighing 70 kg can easily eat 200 gm of waste and 100 gm of Sevin tar without any harm. “We have, therefore, decided to invite the Establishment for this dinner,” says Rachna Dhingra of BGIA.