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Bhopal, India. December 08, 2004 10:08 AM

Bhopal: Dow Chemical must take responsibility for clean-up A young protestor demands that the Union Carbide plant site in Bhopal be cleaned up A young protestor demands that the Union Carbide plant site in Bhopal be cleaned up. Mumbai, India, December 2002.
Maude Dorr

Twenty years on, the Bhopal plant continues to ruin the lives of the surrounding communities. The effects of the leak and the contaminated environment continue seriously to affect people's basic human rights. UCC -- and Dow who merged with UCC in 2001 -- have still not cleaned up the site or stopped pollution that started when the plant opened in the 1970s, meaning local residents are continuing to fall ill from drinking contaminated water.

Two and a half years ago I stopped menstruating entirely
Shehesta Kureishi, 35, who moved to the area 12 years ago, also has pain from her lower back to her groin. Her seven-year-old son Ateeb complains of pain in his joints. Both have been drinking contaminated water.

People from Bhopal need your support. Take action and demand that Dow clean up the Bhopal factory site!

Take action!

Write to Mr Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical. You can base your letters on the sample below.

 [ send green star] December 08, 2004 10:12 AM  [ send green star]
Let there be justice in December 08, 2004 10:18 AM

Let there be justice in Bhopal!

December 03, 2004

December 2-3, 2004: 20 years ago, on this very day, the Union Carbide gas leak struck at the very heart of India.

Twenty years hence, thousands of people around the world are coming together to mark the 20th anniversary of the 'world's worst industrial disaster' as the Global Day of Action against Corporate Crime.

A moment of poignant silence in one city, a burning effigy in another, children painting banners in a third, singers, artists and theatre activists performing solidarity concerts, and several candlelight vigils at that fateful midnight hour -- these images from around the world will establish that the world does remember Bhopal.

It will also be a testament to the spirit of the Bhopalis, who have tirelessly campaigned for that elusive justice. They have bravely dealt not only with the immediate aftermath of the gas leak but also with the continuing poisoning of their groundwater, soil and air from the tons of chemicals lying abandoned inside the factory.

A demonic factory that silently releases the same toxins into new generations of Bhopal's citizens.

Worse, they have suffered the callous indifference of successive governments, been deceived by corrupt bureaucrats hungry for a share of the measly compensation doled out to them, and have braved everything from insult to injury to violent arrests, just for demanding their right to justice.

One would imagine that the Bhopalis are entitled to bitterness, to misery, even perhaps, to self-pity. What's hard to imagine, however, is their grit and determination. Not just their individual courage (and there are heroes aplenty in Bhopal) but also their collective strength as a community. A community that has spawned and strengthened campaigns for justice in several other communities that have been compromised by industrial activities.

This is a community where women have broken age-old traditions of purdah, to step into the glare of the international media spotlight and demand their rights with authority. Where prematurely old men patiently sit through one court hearing after another.

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 December 08, 2004 10:25 AM

The Rediff Special/Ehtasham Khan

December 02, 2004

Jyoti [top, inset] has lost all hopes of getting married.

"I don't know what my future is," says the 36 year old.

She is one of the survivors of the world's worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984.

Jyoti, who studied till Class IX, was not so grim about her future a few years ago.

"Now it is all over. Whom should I blame?" she says in a barely audible tone.

After a few minutes, she breaks down. "Nobody ever asked me about it (marriage)."

She was 16 when methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide factory manufacturing pesticides.

She lives just opposite the factory in Jai Prakash Nagar, a working class neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city.

Also Read

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this is the problem December 08, 2004 10:45 AM

"Dow Chemical is hiring top PR companies to propagate the specious sabotage theory hoping to evade liability for Union Carbide's crimes in Bhopal, but if their story were true, they wouldn't need such expensive storytellers,"

$12 billion compensation fund.

how?? Can we potentially help Union Carbide to help the victims of Bhopal.
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union carbide December 08, 2004 10:52 AM  [ send green star]
medical center in Bhopal December 08, 2004 2:04 PM

Sambhavna is a Sanskrit / Hindi word which means "possibility". Read as "sama" and "bhavna" it means: "similar feelings" or "compassion".

The Sambhavna Trust is a charitable trust run by a group of eight eminent doctors, scientists, writers and social workers who have been involved with various aspects of the Union Carbide disaster ever since its occurrence in December 1984. The Chairperson of Sambhavna, Dr. PM Bhargava, was awarded the "Padma Bhushan" by the President of India in 1986 and the "Legion d'Honneur" in 1998 by the French government for his scientific and social contributions. Dr. H H Trivedi, former Professor at the Gandhi Medical College and Satinath Sarangi are the two Bhopal based trustees of Sambhavna.

Many are unaware that the disaster in Bhopal continues to this day. An estimated 120,000-150,000 survivors of the disaster are still chronically ill. Over 20,000 have died of exposure-related illnesses and more are dying still. Tens of thousands of children born after the disaster suffer from growth problems and far too many teenaged women suffer from menstrual disorders. TB is several times more prevalent in the gas-affected population and cancers are on the rise.
The failure of the official system of health care contributes largely to the medical disaster in Bhopal. All research and monitoring of the long-term health effects of Union Carbide's gases have been abandoned since 1994. So far no treatment protocols for symptom complexes associated with toxic exposure have been established and symptomatic treatment remains the mainstay of medical response. The indiscriminate prescription of steroids, antibiotics and psychotropic drugs is compounding the damage caused by the gas exposure. Despite the expenditure of hundreds of crores of rupees by the government and the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust [BMHT] towards medical relief, the health status of the survivors and their children continues to deteriorate.
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medical center December 08, 2004 2:07 PM

All research and monitoring of the long-term health effects of Union Carbide's gases have been abandoned since 1994. So far no treatment protocols for symptom complexes associated with toxic exposure have been established and symptomatic treatment remains the mainstay of medical response. The indiscriminate prescription of steroids, antibiotics and psychotropic drugs is compounding the damage caused by the gas exposure.  [ send green star]
photos December 08, 2004 2:21 PM

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anonymous Bhopal, our symbol of corporation at its' most unfeeling December 08, 2004 5:25 PM

Samanthi, Thank you for not letting this anniversary slip by unnoticed-may we forever pray for those of Bhopal, Hugs, Sandra  [report anonymous abuse]  [ accepted]
Thanks for Posting December 08, 2004 9:49 PM

I did not know about this ~ thanks for bringing it to attention.

I am so sorry, I do not know what to say, it is too horrible...



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So sorry December 17, 2004 10:43 AM

I am very sorry to know that the residue of Bhopal is still with you and your people. It was one of the great injustices of the 20th Century. However you have reminded me of another sadness which I experienced as a result of Bhopal. Back then, I was a partner in a large Washington law firm. I can remember the exact day when it happened and my senior partner, whose office was near to mine, shouted out of his office to his secretary, "Book me on the next flight to India". In the next few days dozens of American lawyers seeking to profit from your disaster descended on the Delhi airport looking for opportunities to be hired to "get justice" for the poor innocent victims. Their true motive was no different than the motives of Union Carbide, then and since. And I couldn't be happier that I am no longer a Washington lawyer. I know that's of no comfort at all to you. I wish I could do something. Your public health situation is a real tragedy and it is also a filthy stain on American corporate ethics and on an American government that fails to discourage its corporate citizens from raping the earth and its people in the interest of profit. I am 65 years old and it depresses me beyond imagination to know that in my lifetime I am unlikely to ever again see an American government that is kind, gentle and empathic. But this isn't about me; its about you. You have my heartfelt sympathies.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
anonymous thank you Leigh December 17, 2004 5:08 PM


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Justice is always a struggle- we must all contribute any way we can to try to prevent such tragedies.

Hugs, Sandra

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Sandra December 17, 2004 11:25 PM

Thank you for your kind words. I neglected to mention in my earlier post that at the time of Bhopal I was representing several mining companies, very similar to Union Carbide. Justice was then, and is today an alien notion to corporate America (with a very few exceptions.) Morality and ethics are hardly ever the subject of discussion in Corporate Manuals or Board Meetings or even around the water cooler. People seem to think justice is what you get in a court if you can afford to sue me. It seems that it is thought to be a legal concept and not a moral imperative. Justice is not only hard to come by, it is elusive and may be the missing link in our society. Sometimes it is as though we grew a face without a blank space where our nose should be. When I graduated from law school in 1962 most of my classmates would have told you that they became lawyers because they wanted to see justice done. Today, I teach in law school and if I asked my students why they want to become lawyers they would almost unanimously say, "for the money." There are, of course exceptions. But the fact is that the urge for justice, the value of justice, the demand for justice went out the window about the same time the US went into a productivity crisis. We suddenly saw ourselves as a potential third rate economic power and that's when we began using computers to evaluate productivity, fired thirty year employees, lost the loyalty of our workers, out-sourced jobs, out-manuevered the unions and created the two earner household which in turn made it necessary to heap more injustice on our children. It all happened over a very short period of time and it caused a fundamental change in the concept of justice in this country as dramatic as was the industrial revolution itself. Justice is not something we administer in our courts, our schools, our corporations, our churches or our communities. Instead we substitute order, obedience and "don't rock the boat". Our devotion to Justice is what's missing. I miss the blind lady.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
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