Bhopal gas victims criticise Centre for its indifference

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New Delhi, Dec 4 (UNI) Marking the 23rd anniversary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy as the 'Black Day', some prominent persons of the city gathered with the victims to condemn the Government for its enthusiasm to bail Dow Chemical Company, owner of the Union Carbide, out of the legal liabilities.

Noted journalist and columnist Kuldip Nayar, academician Dr Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Disability Rights Activist Javed Abidi, Dr Mira Shiva of Initiative for Health Equity and Society and representatives of All India Drug Action Network were among those who addressed a conference to observe the day here yesterday.

Mr Nayar strongly criticised the UPA Government's plans to write off Dow Chemical's liabilities in return for investments in India.

Held responsible for the clean-up of the toxic wastes and groundwater in Bhopal, Union Carbide was declared an absconder in 1992 by the Bhopal Magistrate for its failure to honour summons, to face charges of ''culpable homicide not amounting to murder''.

Ever since it took over Union Carbide in 2001, Dow Chemical has allegedly shielded the company from Indian courts even while profiting from the illegal sale of its products in India.

For years, the criminal trial was not able to progress because Union Carbide was absconding. The Government had refused to act strongly to enforce its appearance, Mr Nayar said. And now it seemed to have been taken in by their billion dollar investment plans, he added.

It was high time the Government represented its own people and not companies like Dow Chemical. It must make Dow Chemical honour Indian law and lives, stressed Mr Nayar.

''The 1989 settlement, the manner in which it had been arrived, and its adequacy is grossly unjust. Even after 23 years the impact of the health disaster is being witnessed. It is a pity that long term studies by ICMR have been stopped mid way,'' said Dr Shiva.

''Moreover, by permitting Dow Chemical to sell products like Dursban which are banned in US due to its proven toxicity, Government has only shown its indifference towards people's health,'' Dr Shiva added.

Dow Chemical was fined heavily by US Securities Exchange Commission for bribing Indian officials to facilitate its business.

Recently CBI raided Dow Chemical's offices across the country.

The gas victims declared the 23rd anniversary as the ''Black Day'' and announced another 'padyatra' to highlight the indefensible act of the Government trying to clear out Dow's liabilities.

UNI

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