Published On:28 January 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Dissolve ethics panel of BMHRC, demands Ms Sadhna Karnik; Bhopal gas survivors term LOCOG CEO’s statement as shameful

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Ms Sadhna Karnik, convener of Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti, (BGPSSS), has demanded the Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research, (ICMR), to dissolve ethics committee of Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre, (BMHRC), which allegedly failed to curb drug trials, during his proposed visit to the hospital here on Sunday..

In a letter to Director General ICMR, Samiti convener Ms Sadhna, who is working among the survivors and victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, said that the ethical committee of BMHRC has allegedly failed to curb the unethical drug trials on gas victims, bungling of funds meant for their treatment and gross management at the hospital led to closure of some important departments at BMHRC. As such she said that the ethics committee should be dissolved for failing to meet its obligation. She has requested the Director General ICMR to grant her time to apprise him of the affairs in the hospital.

Meanwhile, the five Bhopal NGOs (Non-Government Organizations), working for the welfare of survivors and victims, have slammed the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, (LOCOG), Chief Executive Officer Mr. Paul Deighton’s statement as extremely shameful because it continues to spread the same lie which Dow Chemical wants everyone to believe that it faces no liability for Bhopal disaster.

In a press statement issued here NGOs said that through its purchase of Union Carbide in 2001, Dow Chemical has inherited the criminal, civil and environmental liabilities of Union Carbide in Bhopal. They said that by having this corporation as a sponsor the LOCOG was encouraging it to continue to evade its liabilities in Bhopal. It is absolutely incorrect to say that Dow Chemical has paid compensation to Bhopal gas victims.

The statement said that Dow Chemical has paid compensation to victims of Union Carbide in the USA after it took over the company, but in the Indian Supreme Court it is refusing to honour liabilities to pay additional compensation to Bhopal victims. Ms Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh said that Ms Meredith Alexander’s resignation is a clear indication that LOCOG has decided to shut his ears and eyes to Dow Chemical’s outstanding Bhopal liabilities. The least LOCOG could do is give a fair and patient hearing to Bhopal gas survivors organization who can present facts on Dow Chemical’s liability in Bhopal.
It may be pointed out here that Sustainability Commissioner to the London 2012 Olympics, Ms Meredith Alexander, had quit on Thursday (January 26, 2012) in protest of the sponsorship deal with the Dow Chemical Company for its connection to the Bhopal gas disaster. Ms Alexander was appointed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson to monitor the LOCOG. Ms Alexander, head of trade and corporate at the charity Action Aid told the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 that she could no longer remain in the unpaid post given LOCOG's refusal to end the association. She was one of 13 commissioners.

Meanwhile, Ms Safreen Khan of Children Against Dow-Carbide held Dow Chemical responsible for the contamination of ground water in her community. She pointed out that because of Dow Chemical’s refusal to clean up the hazardous waste left by Union Carbide factory, 40000 people are routinely exposed to cancer and birth defect causing chemicals. She said that by allowing Dow Chemical as a sponsor Mr. Deighton was encouraging Dow to continue to poison the unborn.

Sponsorship by a criminal corporation such as Dow Chemical is against the very spirit of Olympics. Mr. Deighton is not only doing a disservice to the Bhopal victims, he is betraying all who are part of the Olympic movement”, she added.

Bhopal survivors also lashed out at Indian government for protecting the interest of Dow Chemical. Ms Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information & Action said that Indian government needs to send a strong message to the International Olympic Committee and LOCOG that it will not take part in London Olympics if Dow Chemical’s sponsorship is not revoked. Government of India is also protecting Dow’s interest by not correcting figures of death and injury in the upcoming curative petition on additional compensation in the Supreme Court, she said.

Bhopal survivors again thanked Ms Meredith’s Alexander for her solidarity. They also hoped that after the Ms Alexander’s resignation Indian government will find its backbone and hopefully it will stand with the survivors of the world’s worst industrial disaster.

It may be recalled here that 40 tones of methyl isocyanate, (MIC – a highly volatile toxic chemical), gas spewed out from the pesticide plant – owned by Union Carbide India Limited, (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA – in the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. The gas leak killed 3,000 people instantly and more than 25,000 over the years and inflicting grievous injuries on countless others. Many were deformed for life and many children born with the toxic effect are sick and with congenital malformations. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer till date.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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