AID Bloomington Press Release -- December 6th 2004, 8PM
The Association for India's Development (AID) held a candle-light vigil today at Dunn Meadows to mark the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The vigil was intended to raise awareness about the gas leak at Bhopal on the midnight of December 2nd, 1984, from the Union Carbide pesticide factory at Bhopal, India. Half a million people were exposed to the gas and it claimed the lives of over 8000 people immediately after the accident. Over 15,000 people have died since then and the toxic effects of the gas is manifest even in children born to exposed parents. It is estimated that 150,000 people are currently suffering from acute medical ailments due to the exposure.
The Bloomington Chapter of AID is part of over 60 college campuses and international organizations worldwide protesting the failure of Union Carbide, now owned by DOW Chemicals, in cleaning up the factory and its surroundings following the gas leak. The citizens of Bhopal are still exposed to the hazardous chemicals from the factory that have seeped into the ground water, contaminating their primary source of drinking water. Amnesty International reports that 5000 tons of toxic waste is present in the accident site. They also want Union Carbide and its then CEO, Warren Anderson, to face charges of manslaughter at Indian courts. Both Union Carbide and Anderson have warrants pending against them for 13 years and been declared fugitives from justice.
Members of AID and students from various departments on campus observed a silent protest at Dunn Meadows and had posters condemning DOW hemical's lack of efforts to clean up the hazardous environment at Bhopal. Students who passed by stopped to learn about the protest and many signed a petition urging DOW Chemicals to clean up the polluted site and provide just compensation to the affected. Union Carbide's earlier settlement of $470 million with the Government of India now works to about $500 per affected victim and numerous deaths are still being reported each week.
Last Friday, AID screened a documentary "Bhopal: The Search for Justice". Following this was a talk by Law School Associate Professor, Dr. Christiana Ochoa, on the legal implications of the tragedy. Dr. Ochoa talked about the civil case pending against Union Carbide before the courts of New York and the Alien Torts Claim Act under which the case is based. She also described the EPCRA law that was passed in the United States following Bhopal to improve corporate disclosure of chemicals stored in residential communities. It remains to be seen if the courts of the United States will finally bring justice to the victims of the worst industrial disaster in world history.
If you would like more information about the Bhopal Gas Disaster, visit www.studentsforbhopal.org and www.bhopal.net. The Association for India's Development can be reached at www.indiana.edu/~aid or by emailing aid (AT) indiana (DOT) edu.
For more details, contact Yogesh L. Simmhan, ysimmhan (AT) indiana (DOT) edu, 812 391 3053.