Bhopal Tragedy: Warren Anderson Hanging or Urgent Actions

While most of the Indian activists want the blood of 90 plus Warren Anderson, I wish to remind our friends few things.

Was it not a great courage and laudable act of Warren Anderson that he visited Bhopal even after knowing that a major catastrophe has happened because of the negligence of design or maintenance of the plant that came under his control? I am sure he would have been advised not to come to Bhopal under that condition. As a good manager, he dared as he wanted to see himself the loss caused.

How many of the Indian company executives would dare to do that under similar condition? In Indian film, some of the factory owners might visit the affected premises where an industrial accident would have caused so many deaths and miseries, and the anger of the people there are at the maximum but in real situation hardly someone will dare.

Even with all the assurances from the Indian government many things causing physical harm to Anderson would have happened.

I wish the present protest would have been directed to some more useful issues.

Why couldn’t the site be cleaned in last two decades or more? Why couldn’t the people affected were rehabilitated? Why can’t the government save its citizens first and then charge the expenses to the party responsible, in this case Dow Chemical that took over the assets of Union carbide after a buyout? Why didn’t the government of India take up the issue at the highest level with the Presidents of US with whom Mr. Man Mohan Singh has a lot of love? Why couldn’t Dow Chemicals be persuaded to clean up the place, as it had the expertise?

A law ministry note in 2008 clearly said that Dow Chemicals is liable for cleaning up the toxic Bhopal site. Despite this, Dow Chemicals claimed that the Indian government gave it an assurance that it is not liable for the clean-up.

What was done to ensure the effective use of the fund sanctioned and provided for the rehabilitation work? How did the centre or state perform? What has been done by NGOs so that the help reaches to those affected and not to unscrupulous ones?

Barkha Dutt’s ‘We, The People’ on NDTV on June 13 was pretty revealing and shocking too. The media, the ruling party and opposition are engaging the people of the country about fixing the responsibility of allowing Warren Anderson to slip away to US.
However, I could come to know of some information that I did not know. And I am sure India and Indians could have done better to mitigate the miseries of thousands of the people.

The site of the major chemical disaster is still not cleaned. And the place is still dangerous for the people living around it. Dow chemical that have acquisitioned Union Carbide is not ready to do the clean up. Why couldn’t the site be closed and cleaned? Why should it wait for Dow chemicals to clean? Why should the offer of Ratan Tata be not taken seriously where he asked India Inc to come forward and clean up the site?

Quite a good number of families, perhaps in thousands, are still living in the area surrounding it that is dangerous for habitation. Why couldn’t they be moved to safer places? Why can’t it be done today?

The underground water being used by the inhabitants there are poisonous and causing many harmful deceases and illness among the people. Why couldn’t the government provide a speedy and assured medical help? Why didn’t the big companies participated in it? Why can’t the MCI appeal their members to help in the task? Why couldn’t the system provide even safe drinking water with all the technologies and resources available in the country?

And those affected by the Bhopal gas leak have hardly got good enough compensation. If the government agencies agree to it, why can’t it provide sufficient compensation to those who are really affected? i again suggest the government to create a ten billion dollar fund for disaster mitigation.

Instead, the country’s prime minister Man Mohan is happy by appointing a GoM and then after certain media pressure he asks GoM to give report in 10 days. Why did he fail to do anything substantial in last six years when he held the top most position of the country?

This is what appears in an article in Outlook:

“Bhopals will happen, but the country has to progress.” Hard to believe, and enraging too. According to Sathyu Sarangi, a member of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action, a voluntary body, this is what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told him and six of his colleagues when they met him on April 17, 2006, to press for action against Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the American firm Dow Chemical Company since 2001. “Yes, I remember that clearly. This is what the prime minister said,” Sarangi tells Outlook.

And a senior cabinet minister such as Pranab Mukherji is satisfied by providing protection to Arjun Singh’s action and mollifying the public sentiment by promising to try for Anderson extradition.
PS: Deepak Parekh, Chairman HDFC Bank, who is on the board of several companies and known for his frank and no-nonsense attitude towards most issues pertaining to governance and the corporate sector, has views worth appreciating by all those who talk about the Bhopal Tragedy.

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