Mumbai / Narmada / Bhopal / Delhi
MUMBAI * Mumbai slum struggle update | May 18, 2006 : Azad maidan struggle enters 2nd day / Raj Awasti felicitated by Justice Suresh (Eviction Watch, May 19) * Mumbai slum struggle update | May 22, 2006 : You have demolished our present but not our future - The future is ours… (Eviction Watch, May 23) * Maharashtra Government opting for lower rehabilitation standards than the World Bank is shameful! / Shopping for global partners to support brutal evictions, unsustainable plans and undemocratic processes need to be condemned (NBA, May 21) NARMADA * Narmada in Parliament : Noisy scenes over rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar dam oustees (The Hindu, May 24) * Crash course for 50 SSP teams today (HT / Hindustan Times, May 20) BHOPAL * Gas victims write to Ahmedi: Bhopal hospital funds misused (The Pioneer, May 11) * Sick berth (Down to Earth, May 20) * Bush protest demands Anderson's extradition (Students for Bhopal, May 22) * Comedy of errors: how many howlers can you cram into one Bhopal news story? (International Campaign for Justice on Bhopal, May 9) DELHI * Residents of Transit Camp fight against demolition and displacement (CGPI – Communist Gadar Party of India, May 23) * Bias in the Press (Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, May 21) MOVEMENT ISSUES * Aati Kya Plachimada? From Coke mascot to water warrior. Is Aamir's Narmada bachao run for real? (Outlook, May 1)
From Delhi, Wednesday, May 24, 2006
PLEASE SEND ON
"There Is A Fury Building Up Across India" (Arundhati Roy, April 29 – see CDDB 29)
Mumbai slum struggle updates / Maharashtra Government opting for lower rehabilitation standards / Narmada in Parliament / Crash course for 50 SSP teams / Gas victims write to Justice Ahmedi / Bush protest demands Anderson's extradition / Residents of Transit Camp fight against demolition and displacement / Aati Kya Plachimada? From Coke mascot to water warrior: Is Aamir's Narmada bachao run for real ?
Jai Sen, for CACIM
Note : The CDDB (CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin) is a digest of material on the struggles that have been going on for twenty and more years, and have recently intensified, in Bhopal, the Narmada valley, and Delhi, for a place to live in security and dignity – and everything that goes with that. The CDDB series started during late March and April 2006, when all three movements were holding protests in Delhi, and with the Bhopal and Narmada movements on ‘dharna’ (sit-down strike) simultaneously at a place called ‘Jantar Mantar’ in the city. See CDDB 1 and 2 for more details on Jantar Mantar and the demos. All back issues of this Bulletin (the CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin), number 0 onwards, are available @ : http://www.cacim.net/twiki/tiki-view_articles.php?type=article&topic=1 http://www.cacim.net/twiki/tiki-view_articles.php?type=article&topic=1
Disclaimer : The views of the author/s of the articles featured here are not necessarily those of this Bulletin (and vice versa). You may copy and print extracts from this Bulletin for your own personal and non-commercial use only.
Some sites for more information : Go to www.cacim.net http://www.cacim.net and see ‘Newsclippings’ and ‘Links’.
Arrested activists still in Jail
On 19.5.06 1:38 pm, "Eviction Watch" wrote:
On the second day of the agitation against illegal demolition of 5000 houses at Mandala, more organisations and civil society leaders came in support of the agitation demanding rightful restoration of the land back to the slum dwellers.
As part of the agitation, Mr. Raj Awasti, of the United Shop Owners association and an associate of NAPM, who was jailed, booked under the draconian Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug Offenders and Dangerous Persons Act, 1981 (MPDA) was felicitated by Justice Suresh, ex Judge of the High Court of Mumbai at Azad Maidan.
Mr. Awasti was held at Thane and Nasik Jail from January 3rd when he was arrested till 4th May, until the High court under a petition by Medha Patkar of NAPM released Awasti unconditionally. The major crime, which Awasti did, was to stand for the livelihood affected people under MUTP which resulted in the Inspection Panel of World Bank suspending funding to the 4,500 crore project
Justice Suresh addressing the crowd emphasised the rights given under the constitution rather than by subsequent actions by judiciary, which have violated the spirit of the constitution. Mr. Awasti was symbolically given a pen to continue the fight he has started.
Many more organisations including Bahujan Samaj Network, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Students Federation of India (SFI), Nirman Mazdoor Sangatana, Bal Haq Abhiyan, Apnalaya, Nirbay Bano Andolan, Youth Unites etc participated in the proceedings and after.
The 10 activists who were falsely booked during and after the demolition at Mandala and kept in Police custody were produced in court. Though a bail application was made and a request for judicial custody, the court extended the police custody for four more days. Two of the main activists from among the ten was re arrested again in relation to an older case registered against them during the anti demolition struggle in 2005. The bail application of the three women are kept pending for the report of Asst Public Prosecutor.
On 23.5.06 12:00 pm, "Eviction Watch" wrote:
Mumbai slum struggle update | May 22, 2006
As the struggle against demolition of Mandala entered the sixth day, youths from different parts of Mumbai came in support of the agitation. Many of the youths were from communities who face demolition /were demolished or from other slum communities. Other youths from different colleges etc also joined the agitation.
Youths from the community narrated how they are affected, their employment got disturbed and how young peoples marriage got affected. Many young people also lost their documents in the fire.
The fight of the youths is against the very system that is eroding their employment and now the very shelter they live in.. Songs, dances and drums filled the entire area with revolutionary fervour. Many youth groups including, Apna Anubhav, Initiative, Youth Unites, Yuva Vikas Kendra, etc
Medha Patkar gave lighted torches to young men and women before the torch light procession to take forward the struggle for house and justice.
Earlier the slum dwellers protested during the inauguration of the Atria Shopping Mall, which have come up on a reserved plot for housing the poor. The case against the Mall is pending before the High Court of Mumbai. While the government is colluding with the builders and allowing shopping malls in plots reserved for the poor they are demolishing thousands of houses of slum dwellers with out any alternate plan for rehabilitation.
The Activists who were arrested were send back to police custody as a new date was given 24th of this month, as the judge did not turn up today. The bail application is pending for the court.
On 24th May different Child rights group along with the displaced children from demolished slums are joining to assert ‘every child’s right to housing’. The programs include songs, drawing, games, children’s park, symbolically making a dream house by children in protest against all the children who are denied their right to house, security and love.
Shopping for global partners to support brutal evictions, unsustainable plans and undemocratic processes need to be condemned.
On 22.5.06 10:24am, "firstname.lastname@example.org" wrote:
21st May 2006
The news that the World Bank is not the best option for the Maharashtra Government, that wants to continue with its unplanned, undemocratic, brutal evictions in Mumbai is not at all shocking. The ambitious infrastructure plans of the state, concentrated in the financial capital of the country, are obviously at the cost of the poor and the working classes at large. The sell out of mill lands to Mithi River management plan favoring the rich and the investors-builders is the game of the political bureaucratic vested interests. With or without the support from the judiciary, which too is managed by false or confusing affidavits, incomplete, biased data, interim reports indicating unjustifiable urgency, the state government has gone ahead displacing 25000 families for Mumbai Urban Transport Project, 35000 for Mumbai Infrastructure Development Project, 80000 for Airport expansion, and at least 10000 to 20000 for the Mithi River plan. The 50 to 70 years old residents and traders on the
This inhuman attitude to action against the urban poor, is also due to support coming from the intelligentsia and upper-middle classes who purchase and make their own property legal‚ and that of the poor, illegal. The state government has also exhibited an increasingly brutal face against the human face promised through the Common Minimum Programme of UPA. In spite of many slogans which are clearly rhetorical it has shirked its responsibility towards rehabilitation with a principle of better or equivalent standard of living‚ for a resettled family, compared to the one prior to displacement. The Slum Rehabilitation Scheme is the only scheme offered to the people displaced by the urban projects in Mumbai, where there is enormous corruption, manipulation of records and insensitivity to the livelihood issues of the displaced communities and families. The shopkeepers who are settled with a trade/occupation carried out in 50 yrs old premise of 500 to 1000 sp ft with necessary trade/Gum
With all this the oustees, from Mumbai, those amongst them who are not fatally destitute and hence could raise a voice, demanded justice, could complain to all authorities first and then the World Bank‚s Review Panel link. The Bank was not only a party to but a major push and pull factor for the project, the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority, through Mr. Chandrashekhar, its most powerful‚ manager and director close to the corridors or power, first tried to publicise the World Bank‚s good‚ policies and use their credibility to claim that the oustees had a guarantee of best of rehabilitation policy and always assured the oustees of nothing less than their own development‚. However, after the Review Panel of the Bank criticized the rehabilitation exposing the violation of policies and agreements with the World Bank in the MUTP Project, the same Mr. Chandreshekhar and the Chief Minister himself has started ridiculing the Bank and claiming that they do not need the B
As an international agency with a global watch of many non-governmental, civil society organizations and movements, the World Bank can’t so easily allow the borrower government to go ahead without a promising‚ policy. While it‚s well known that the World Bank, with other multi-laterals, is responsible, through the neo-liberal agenda, marketised and corporatised policies and paradigm, for escalating displacement, it also puts forth rehabilitation preconditions. The Bank is know for diluting its rehabilitation policies such as land for land in irrigation and other rural projects but is forced to take cognizance of the impacts of its own funded projects.
It is indeed revealing that our own government wants a less favorable policy on rehabilitation than the bankers and is against involving the affected people as well as ensuring the alternative livelihood to each family. The people of this country must warn both the lending agencies and the planning authority that our democratic rights and human rights are non-negotiable and beyond the market game that they both are involved in. No displacement without consent of the affected and fair and just rehabilitation can be acceptable.
Medha Patkar Simpreet Singh
The Hindu, May 24 2006
Saifuddin Soz promises speedy relief for affected families
NEW DELHI: Long answers given by Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz during Question Hour on Tuesday on rehabilitation of affected people by the Sardar Sarovar dam across the Narmada prompted Rajya Sabha Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to ask him to be brief and to the point. At one point, the Minister referred to hydel power as "hydraulic power" and his answer witnessed noisy scenes from Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) benches for a few minutes. Mr. Soz was asked by the Chairman not to go into intricate details and refrain from wasting the time of the House.
The Minister was also at the receiving end from the CPI(M) member Brinda Karat who likened his answers to "applying chillies on fresh wounds." Highlighting the plight of the affected people, she said that development could not go on at the cost of bulldozing the dwelling units of the poor and displaced. She said nearly 10,000 families in the Narmada valley were yet to be rehabilitated and the Group of Ministers' was dissatisfied at the rehabilitation efforts.
Mr. Soz promised speedy rehabilitation of families affected by the raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam across Narmada river in Gujarat.
Replying to supplementaries, he said the Narmada Control Authority had decided to accord permission to raise the height of the dam from 110.64 metres to 121.92 metres after getting various clearances.
The House witnessed uproarious scenes over the issue with the BJP and ruling party members trading charges. Mr. Soz said as per the action taken report submitted by the Governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the Grievances Redressal Authority of these States had expressed satisfaction regarding rehabilitation of the affected families.
On the repair, renewal and restoration of water bodies announced by the Government, the Minister said 14 States had benefited from this and 10 new States had demanded assistance.
HT (Hindustan Times) Correspondent
Indore, May 20, 2006
NATIONAL SAMPLE Survey Organisation (NSSO) will impart one-day training to members of the 50 teams constituted under Sardar Sarovar Project Relief and Rehabilitation Oversight Group at Shri Govindram Sakseria Institute of Technology and Science (SGSITS) tomorrow between 10 am to 6 pm.
NSSO Director General K V Rao will also be present during the crash course session. After the day-long training, the teams will leave for the SSP affected sites to assess the ground realities.
Every three-member NSSO team would include a revenue official of Narmada Valley Development Authority. The teams would be imparted training on how to collect information about the rehabilitation status of SSP oustees.
They would be given a questionnaire drafted by Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to conduct investigations. The teams would undertake fieldwork, process the data and enumerate particulars of non-listed persons who claim to be oustees. NCA will set up a control cell here to process the data.
The Oversight Group headed by retired Comptroller and Auditor General of India V K Shunglu will also visit few villages after June 15. The Group’s two members - former Jawaharlal Nehru University vice-chancellor G K Chaddha and Loksatta convener Dr Jaiprakash Narayan - will accompany him.
Besides ascertaining the State Government’s report on the number of Project Affected Families (PAFs) with regard to rehabilitation and resettlement, the Oversight Group will recommend a system to ensure that all families affected by the dam height of 121.92 meters receive the benefit of relief and rehabilitation package as per norms laid down by Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award, Supreme Court and Grievance Redressal Authority within three months.
The Oversight Group will submit its report to the Prime Minister through Minister of Water Resources by June-end. In addition to 50 teams, Ministry of Water Resources will send four teams to visit rehabilitation sites to report on the development.
The Supreme Court, in its order issued on May 9, had asked Prime Minister to take decision by July 3 and place it on record along with requisite material by July 6. The deployment of 50 teams is a major exercise launched by the Union Government to crosscheck the State Government’s claims on rehabilitation.
A month ago, three Union Ministers had visited the affected areas (three districts in one day) and submitted a report to the Prime Minister. State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had condemned the visit as inconsequential, stating that situation could not be assessed in 24 hours.
Since the matter is before SC, the Congress-led Union Government is serious about its findings and is reluctant to rely on the BJP-led MP Government’s inputs. As a result, it has commissioned technically inclined NSSO to ensure an independent survey.
On 23.5.06 4:51am, "Nityanand" and on 22.5.06 Campaigns and Advocacy - TOM [mailto:email@example.com] mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org%5D wrote:
May 11 2006, The Pioneer
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udhyog Sangathan has written a letter to chairman of Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust Justice AM Ahmedi to draw his attention to the poor condition of the hospital.
The 17-point letter has raised some critical issues. it asks about the vacant posts in the hospital at the senior level. Some departments are on the verge of closing down due to no medical staff available
The hospital, even after 6 years of functioning has not been able to begin its proposed transplant unit. The letter also talks about the admission of general patients when there is no facility available for gas victims in the hospital.
The hospital administration denied allegations that it refused to treat patients suffering from heart and kidney ailments
The letter also questions authorities on why patients are forced to go outside for check up and medical tests despite the fact that treatment is available free of cost at the hospital.
It is alleged that funds meant for research are being misused as the research topics have not yet been declared.
The issue of direct appointments raises suspicions. Electronic equipment bought for the hospital are not functioning properly even in the warranty period. The letter also asks why mini-units of the hospital had not issued smart cards to gas victims.
No action has been taken against Sit Iyan Parsibal, who took Rs 11 crore to London in 1994-98. The accounts of the hospital handed over to the registrar had not been made public yet. The revised pay scale for the staff and paramedical staff has not been implemented yet.
The letter also raises questions regarding the conveyance and ambulances. A clarification on ten proposed mini units has also been demanded in the letter.
On 20.5.06 4:49 pm, "Bridget Hanna" wrote:
Down to Earth VOL 15, NO 1 Saturday, May 20, 2006
Intro: The Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre has done little for the long-term treatment of gas victims
Overruling objections of groups representing Bhopal gas victims, the Supreme Court on May 2, 2006, sanctioned Rs 37.65 crore to the Bhopal Memorial Trust. The trust administers the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) and had demanded the money to ensure better functioning of this institute, set up specifically for victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The apex court's ruling came after a year during which the BHMRC was racked by doctors' strikes, and faced allegations of impropriety.
On April 12, 2006, the court took note of some such charges and permitted victims' representatives to scrutinise BMHRC and trust accounts. The investigations revealed that the trust did not maintain an inventory of assets and also did not have details of patients treated at the BMHRC. Besides, funds had also not been transferred to the trust by its earlier London-based avatar (see box: Trust timeline ) But in its judgment, the apex court set aside these objections.
What about accountability? A Supreme Court ruling has kept BMHRC and the trust that runs it — it's headed by former chief justice of India A M Ahmadi — out of the purview of a Supreme Court committee that monitors medical rehabilitation of Bhopal victims. Charges of unaccountability are rife. Aziz Ahmad Siddiqui, working trustee of the trust, counters them saying that the hospital submits its accounts to the Supreme Court regularly. But victims' groups allege that the trust submitted its accounts for six years only after their recent demands . More importantly, BMHRC has done nothing to ensure adequate care for the victims. Though built specifically to give free long-term treatment to gas victims, the hospital, which is the only super-specialty hospital in Bhopal, also caters to other patients who pay for their treatment. In the process, the gas victims are systematically discriminated against. Derided as the giasi s, they are allocated a registration number that sets them apart from other patients. They have to wait longer for medical tests, do several rounds for reports and most often end up without a proper record of the treatment. Gas victims with coronary heart problems are unnecessarily subjected to bypass surgery, simply because it's cheaper. In contrast, other patients with similar problems are treated with the less invasive angioplasty.
Money laundered The hospital figures for 2005 show that every third patient treated at bhmrc was a paid patient. The management reasons that money from private patients adds to funds for treating victims. Says Akhilesh Argal, a critical care specialist with the Bhopal Charitable Hospital, "There should be a quota for private patients." BMHRC's management says that the hospital does have such a quota, but refuses to divulge details. It does say that 30 per cent of the hospital's profits go to consultants, 10 per cent is given as bonuses to the staff and the rest is earmarked for maintaining hospital infrastructure. But irregularities abound. According to hospital records around 1,000 private patients have not paid their dues.
The strike Such cases of financial misappropriation and discrimination against gas victims came to the fore when BMHRC's doctors and supporting staff went on strike in April, 2005. Though their main demand was better pay, the striking doctors spilled the beans on malpractices, which the victims had long alleged. They also had issues against consultants pocketing a part of the amount received from paid patients. But the management feels this is the only way to attract good doctors. However, the fact remains that the consultants are not really interested in treating non-paying patients. Moreover, the hospital has failed to recruit sufficient doctors to deal with the rise in the number of patients. In 2001, 23,350 gas victims consulted the hospital as outpatients. By 2005, their number had increased to 94,972. In 2001, 1,984 gas victims were admitted to the hospital, their number rose to 5,757 in 2005. 1,163 private outpatients consulted BMHRC in 2001; their number went up to 12,717 in 2005. That of private inpatients went up from 477 in 2001 to 2,319 in 2005. The major load of this rise fell on senior doctors. While BMHRC's management refused to provide data on vacant posts in the hospital, figures provided by local ngos show that while in 2000 there were 198 nurses, 63 senior residents and 21 junior residents, their numbers had fallen to 98, 25 and 28 respectively in 2004. A headcount done after the end of the strike shows 12 vacancies in the anaesthesia department and 8 in the cardiology department. The departments of nephrology, microbiology, psychiatry and transfusion medicine have no senior residents. The management, however, is not worried about the shortfall. It reasons that senior and junior doctors constitute a floating population. But, the hospital does not even have the requisite consultants. The nephrology department has one consultant instead of three. When he took leave recently, the onus of care fell on less-qualified doctors. So, 20-year-old Shanu, who recently took his mother Hasina Bi for dialysis, had to sign a document saying he had no problem with juniors treating his mother. Hasina also had a heart problem for which she was referred to the cardiology department, but she has not been examined, because the only consultant there is also on leave.
The BMHRC has also floundered on another of its objectives: research on the long-term effect of exposure of mic — the gas that leaked from Union Carbide's Bhopal factory. Satinath Sarangi, of the ngo Sambhavna Trust, a trust that provides treatment to the Bhopal survivors says bhmrc's research centre does not even have a committee on research ethics. Protocols for treating those exposed have also not been devised, he adds. The result: no research paper has come from BMHRC, though the hospital's annual budget for research is around Rs 5 crore. During the strike, the agitators had alleged that the hospital's director-general, Indraneel Mittra, has diverted research funds into studies on breast cancer, a field in which he has personal interest, but one which does not have any relevance for gas victims.
Bad management The hospital had to be closed down twice following en masse resignation by the strikers: first in July 2005 and then in December. Experts decried the move, while BMHRC' s management felt that the staff had no reason to complain since they were paid more than their counterparts in the state. But a nursing supervisor, says, "We are entitled to higher remuneration since BMHRC is a super-specialty hospital". Mittra counters, " T he employees had demanded central government scales, but they are contract workers, not eligible for such scales. Central government workers do not get benefits or increments like those being given to the BMHRC employees. If central scales had been implemented, some would have ended up getting less than what they were getting now. " After the strike commenced, the hospital had to be closed to protect the property from the agitators, says Mazhar Ullah, BMHRC's public relations officer . But health professionals in Bhopal differ. C C Chaubal, a private gastroenterologist says, "Closing down the hospital was unacceptable. The management should have sought help of health professionals from the rest of country." Argal says the lack of qualified hospital management personnel compounded problems. Sadhna Karnik, a Bhopal-based activist alleges that the management used the good offices of the prime minister to force the doctors end the strike and sign an apology letter. The strike, however, served to highlight the problems that bedevil the hospital. Its management must be streamlined for the gas victims to get quality care on demand.
1984: Bhopal disaster
1991: The Supreme Court directs Union Carbide Corporation, USA, to finance a 500-bed hospital for the long term medical care of survivors
1992: Union Carbide's Indian shares confiscated by chief judicial magistrate of Bhopal
1992: Union Carbide sets up the Bhopal Hospital Trust (BHT) in England
1998: BHT is Indianised to form Bhopal Hospital Memorial Trust (BHMT). Supreme Court overrides order of a Bhopal court and allows sale of confiscated shares in the face of legal opposition of the survivors. The proceeds of this sale plus a sizable contribution from the Indian government go to BMHT
2000: BMHT starts functioning
On 22.5.06 3:33am, "Spartacus" wrote:
This past friday, AID Cincinnati joined a protest against a Bush visit to Northern Kentucky University, and they brought their Bhopal banners, demanding that Bush immediately extradite Carbide's wanted former CEO, Warren Anderson, to India. You can read more below; three cheers for AID Cincinnati! RB is ME
On the 19th of May 2006, Friday, President George Bush visited the Northern Kentucky University (NKU), on the border of Ohio and Kentucky, to speak on the American Competitiveness Initiative, a plan to boost research and development, and educational progress. He also attended a fund-raising event for Republican Congressman Geoff Davis thereafter. The Cincinnati chapter of AID and SFB, based in the University of Cincinnati - just a couple of miles north of the NKU - took this opportunity to protest against the perfunctory attitude of the US government in bringing Warren Andersen and Union Carbide to justice at Indian courts for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. For years the Indian government (CBI) has been trying, albeit half-heartedly, to get the FBI to help capture Mr. Andersen who had been proclaimed a fugitive from justice in Indian courts for failure to show up at various criminal case proceedings. Armed with banners, poster boards and scary masks, five volunteers : Sandesh, Rupa, Gabriel, Moon and DC set out to make sure that our voice was heard and the cause noticed. And that we did!
President Bush was scheduled to speak at 3.40pm (EST) at Regent Hall, NKU. We, the SFB protesters donning scary masks, took position on a street corner at the main entrance to the NKU around 2.45pm waving banners and poster boards. We shared the stage with about 250 other protesters for various causes, but fortunately, our prime position and colorful demonstration made sure that we attracted attention. Although the presidential motorcade did not pass by us, the entire protesting group marched to a corridor pretty close to the venue of the talk and raised slogans , including " Justice for Bhopal, Justice for ALL ". Some believe that we got lucky and got much closer to Bush than to the comfort of a few SS agents! A lot of the local media was intrigued by the very new cause (ours) showing up at Bush protests. We spoke to a freelance journalist attached to Cincy Post about why we were there and managed to be covered by a video man from CNN, MSNBC and FOXNEWS (I don’t think it was aired though !). We stayed in that corridor till about 4.15pm after which the crowd dispersed. On the whole this was a very strong experience for us and are encouraged by attention we received. A few lessons learnt on how to play in the circus called Media Attention!
Coordinator, Students for Bhopal
I N T E R N A T I O N A L C A M P A I G N F O R J U S T I C E I N B H O P A L
May 09, 2006
SEE IF YOU CAN SPOT 'EM ALL: ANSWERS AT THE END
Bhopal: The victims of the 1984 Union Carbide chemical disaster, the worst industrial disaster demanded strict action against all those responsible for the disaster.
The Bhopal Gas tragedy case proceedings have been going on for over twenty years. Till date CBI has brought 215 witnesses in the case in which statement of 178 people have been registered. Today statement of two accused were recorded before Magistrate Anil Kumar Gupta.
Talking to media person Salinath Shadgi, member of Bhopal Gas Tragedy organisation alleged that hearing in the case was being done at a slow pace.
He further alleged that neither CBI nor Indian government was not doing anything to extradite Waren Anderson, former Union Carbide chairman to India.
“Since the case started all the three foreigner accused are absconding. On 7 December 1984, Waren Anderson gave bail of 25,000 rupees and promised to come whenever he is needed but till now he has never come for a single hearing. The most painful thing is that neither Warren Anderson nor Union Carbide or Union Carbide Eastern have been presented before the court. The Indian Government has also not taken any steps to bring them to India,” said Satinath Pandagi.
The members of Bhopal Gas Tragedy organisation are demanding Special Prosecution cell to get early justice.
However, advocate of CBI C.Sahay denied all the charges and said that they were trying their level best to extradite all the accused.
“There are different proceeding for the foreign accused. We have taken steps; Many times Indian ministry has tried to bring them to India. It is not that we are not doing anything in this regards,” said C. Sahay.
On December 2nd, 1984, 27 tons of poisonous gas including methyl isocyanate leaked from a storage tank at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal,took the lives of more than 7,000 people.
This disaster is regarded the worst chemical disaster in history. Union Carbide is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical.
1. Warner Anderson should of course be Warren (in the headline!)
2. 3 disasters in one sentence (first para), many more grammatical disasters follow
3. Salinath Shadgi (para 3) is really called Satinath Sarangi
4. Bhopal Gas Tragedy Organisation (para 3) should be Bhopal Group for Information and Action, a member of the ICJB.
5. Waren Anderson should of course be Warren
6. Satinath Pandagi is really called Satinath Sarangi.
On 23.5.06 12:04 pm, "Postmaster CGPI" wrote:
Thousand of residents of Transit Camp in New Delhi blocked the major artery in Okhla Phase-I Industrial, between Lal Chowk and Gol Chakkar, leading to massive traffic jam. Women, old, children and youth in thousands, with lathis in their hands challenged the police and rapid action force and continued the blockade.
On May 5, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had put up a notice informing people to vacate their houses before 8 May, and that demolition will take place from 9-11 May. The notice mentioned that the land on which houses were built during the past 21 years comes under Green Belt as per Delhi Development Plan and hence they will be displaced from the land. There is no plan for their relocation and resettlement. This is an attack on life and livelihood of all the people of Transit Camp. Under the leadership of Lok Raj Sangathan, nearly a thousand people seething with anger gathered at Ramlila Maidan in TC. They resolved to fight against this illegitimate order as an attack on their life and livelihood, and if necessary to sacrifice their life for their cause.
Besides many local activists, leader of Lok Raj Sangathan Bijju Nayak, and Delhi Convenor of Lok Raj Sangathan and well-known women activist Sucharita addressed the gathering. They stressed that we can rely only on our collective strength and organisation, and not get diverted by the vote bank politics and parliamentary games of various parties. The gathering decided to form "Transit Camp Bachao Sangharsh Samiti", which will lead the struggle through collective decision involving everybody.
The Transit Camp was established in 1985, when thousands of jhugis across Delhi were demolished, and people resettled here. 1762 families were allotted 12.5 square yard land each by the government. They were promised that they would soon be given permanent land. Nearly 20-25 thousand people reside here. In the past 21 years a whole new generation grew up here. The people have invested their lifelong saving in building their homes. Until 2003 DDA was taking rent from them, and the people have been given water and electric connections, and ration card and voter identity card.
On May 5, the residents of Transit Camp filed a petition in Delhi High court. However on May 8, the High Court gave ruling against the petition. Hearing the news thousands of residents came out on the streets and blocked Mata Anandmayi Road. They were ready to fight till end to protect their homes from demolition.
The High Court argued that the decision was based on 1960 Master Plan of Delhi according to which the land where transit camp is located comes under green belt. However the residents are arguing that when the DDA knew that the land comes under green belt why did it resettle them there. It is DDA's fault, and why should they suffer? The government must either change the master plan and convert this land into residential area, or provide them alternate land and compensation for what they built in past 21 years.
The news of the struggle spread across the entire Delhi city like fire. All justice-loving people must support this struggle. This struggle is a major contribution to the overall struggle of people of Delhi against the attack on their homes and livelihood, which is being carried out in the interest of big monopoly companies and big business.
On 21.5.06 2:16 pm, "QADEEROY" wrote:
To The Editor Times of India
May 21, 2006
Anil Dharker is certainly entitled to his middle class opinion (“Court’s Class Act”, Times International, May 20, 2006), but the question is why is the Times of India not publishing other opinions? The day before Dharker’s article appeared, a TOI reporter had interviewed me extensively on the same issue, but not a word of that was published. Was it because that, unlike Dharker, I am not suave, dignified, and erudite enough to have moved from engineering to editing, nor do I have a thing about being blatantly underage behind the wheel of a fast car? Are those the qualifications one requires to write off 60% of urban citizens (occupying less than 5% of urban land – “vast tracts”, Dharker?) on the grounds that they are part of a “combination of avarice, political opportunism, and misplaced humanitarianism”? And before exploring how private parties (who can be more avaricious and opportunistic than anyone else) can provide low-cost housing, is there some space for asking why public agencies have not been able to do so on “public land” for fifty long years? Or is the entire space reserved only for the biases of the middle class? – who constitute one-third of the urban population (so much for the silent “majority” of Dharker’s imagination), and who daily place their “lives and money” into the hands of that huge army of servants, maids, drivers, clerks, and assorted workers whose labour keeps them alive. That class may enjoy reading Dharker’s reminiscences, two decades ago, of a dinner for two at the price of Rs 10,000 (that’s a hundred times the minimum wage in this nation!), but then the TOI, and the judiciary, is clearly engaging in a class war by proxy. Doesn’t our Constitution say something about equality, Mr Editor? And perhaps you will publish the letter of invitation Dharker received for settling in Mumbai?
Director, Hazards Centre
92 H Pratap Market
Munirka, New Delhi
[Note: Given your explicit bias, it is hardly likely that you will publish this letter, but your ignoring the class divide does not mean that the masses will ignore the TOI for long.]
From Coke mascot to water warrior. Is Aamir's Narmada bachao run for real?
Outlook, May 1, 2006
On 20.5.06 5:32 pm, "nityanand jayaraman" wrote:
NAMRATA JOSHI on Aamir Khan
Aamir Khan wants a Rajya Sabha seat: it's one of the many theories doing the rounds on why the superstar decided to align himself with causes like the Narmada oustees and Bhopal gas tragedy victims. Toss the opinion at him and you get a full-throated laugh in response. "It (the Rajya Sabha) is a full-time job. My first love is acting. I can't give it up," he says. But is there a larger role he's decided to assign himself, a self-image he feels the need to live up to? Lately, Aamir has been talking about issues like fundamentalism and divisive politics. His on-screen personae, be it Bhuvan in Lagaan, Mangal Pandey in The Rising or DJ in Rang De Basanti, have shown ample and unambiguous crusading zeal.
In real life, however, Aamir is more reluctant to wear the activist hat. He told Outlook he's just "raising his voice as an Indian, as a human being".
The 'method actor' describes his Narmada involvement as spontaneous, neither planned nor premeditated. Earlier this month, he was at the Kiran Nagarkar book launch in Delhi. The venue happened to be close to Jantar Mantar, the site for the Narmada and Bhopal dharna; he saw the protesters, enquired about them from friends; he'd also been watching "Medhaji's fast" on TV, and decided he'd come back in a week to express solidarity.
Friends have been quick to rally to his support. "How many stars have lent support for a cause so selflessly?" asks Kunal Kohli, director of Aamir's new film, Fanaa. "He stands up for something more than Bollywood, we should be proud of him," says lyricist/adman Prasoon Joshi.
Yet the star's motives have also been viewed with some scepticism. There have been accusations that he was using the cause as publicity for himself and RDB, that he was carrying his RDB persona to ridiculous lengths in real life. "People tell me that sitting there with the RDB team was a good photo-op to take the film to a Sholay level...a good way of proving who is the best Khan," comments Shatrughan Sinha, while at the same time declaring he "loves the boy". Author-activist Arundhati Roy, among others, questioned Aamir's brand association with Coca Cola whose Pilukhedi plant is allegedly contaminating the Parvati river near Bhopal. (The story of its Plachimada plant in Kerala and the people's struggle there is by now part of activist folklore.) However, when Congress and BJP workers in Gujarat burnt his posters and stopped his film shows, wider sympathy and support for Aamir did emerge. Roy herself praised him for standing up to Modi when even the UPA government said nothing about the violence the latter threatened to unleash in Gujarat.
Aamir insists his interest in causes is not new. "I worked in Gujarat during the quake, gave time and aid for childcare and education but have never spoken about it," he says. The activism in his films is no new-found gimmick either: "Even Ghulam was about an idea, that the energy of misguided youth can be used in a positive manner," he points out. What flummoxes him is the suggestion that publicity for RDB is what's driving him, when the film is already a hit. "It was not DJ sitting there at Jantar Mantar. It was me as an individual," he says.
Perhaps Aamir didn't realise then that he was landing himself in the thick of a complicated controversy, on which even experts and the intelligentsia, let alone the common people, are sharply divided. He himself makes no bones about his ignorance of matters such as how raising the height of the dam from 110 to 122 metres can make a difference to people's lives. "I don't have the bandwidth to understand the issue, I am not equipped," he admits.
He doesn't want to be perceived as a political creature, nor does he want to be seen as a part of the Narmada movement. "I am not a member of the NBA, I am not authorised to speak for them, I am not aware of the intricacies of their struggle," he says.
Aamir's concern is simple and humanitarian: displacement. "Aamir is saying nothing about the dam. He is asking that the displaced people be rehabilitated. What's wrong with that?" asks lyricist-writer Javed Akhtar. "Rehabilitation and compensation are not intricate matters. It does not need much to understand them," says the star. His is a common sense agenda. "A lot of people will get water. But a lot of them are also getting displaced. Should we forget and let them die? Should we think about them or not?" he demands to know.
And like a good politician-in-the-making (much as he claims he is not), he's quick to take a lob at the apathy of political parties. "I thought they would take a lead on the issue of rehabilitation, it would have helped them strengthen their position politically. But the protests against me shows that they are not interested. Do they want the displaced people to die? Can such parties take anyone ahead on the road to progress and development?" he asks.
Now Aamir also has the Coca Cola issue to grapple with. It's a brand he claims has posed no problems in the last seven years. "Now that the problem has been brought up, I will pursue it to its logical end," he promises. He is in a dialogue with Coke officials, has asked them to present case papers, is reading them and seeking relevant information. "Only then will I comment publicly," he says.
He is also awaiting the release of his new film, Fanaa, next month and is preparing for his next venture, a romantic comedy with Mani Ratnam which rolls in four months. He still insists he is, above all, an actor and entertainer: "The core responsibility of creative people in the mainstream is to entertain. It's the political parties who must look after people."
Aamir says he is hopeful that the Supreme Court judgement on the Narmada dam issue will force the state governments to look into the problem of rehabilitation seriously. He will decide on his own association with the issue only after three months, the deadline given by the court for the rehabilitation work. Till then, he says, the media will play watchdog for him. "Tomorrow, if I die will the issue close? I am not indispensable to the movement," he says.
But it's not going to be so easy for Aamir to extricate himself from his new activist role and its fallout. The Coke issue is just the beginning. In the days to come, Aamir's continuing involvement with the Narmada issue or his disengagement from it will come under increasing scrutiny. Medha Patkar herself said Aamir would need to be steadfast and prepared for sacrifices. Comments Shatrughan: "Everything he says has a consequence. If not complete information, he must have enough information...otherwise he'll be torn apart not only by the media but also by the people". Says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt: "His credibility will only be demonstrated after he consistently and persistently articulates his position for the cause. Till then, he'll have to live with the demons that keep questioning him. He will have to respond not in words but in action."
As Arundhati Roy put it, Aamir has jumped into the deep end of the pool. And he'd better learn fast to swim, and swim well. Otherwise, his trek to Jantar Mantar will be seen just as what his detractors are calling it: "a photo-op."