More articles by

Deepak Tiwari
Deepak Tiwari


Conserve Union Carbide plant as a disaster memorial

COLLECTIVE EFFORT COLLECTIVE EFFORT Sathyu with his team of volunteers at Sambhavna | Arvind Jain

Why did you choose this life which is not very easy and not become an engineer?

During my BTech, I realised that while engineering was exciting, the work of an engineer was pretty bor-ing and rather purposeless. I find my current life far more exciting and purposeful. It is satisfying to find my work having a positive impact on the lives of the survivors as well as society.

How is your work different from that of other organisations and individuals working for Bhopal tragedy survivors?

My work is focused a lot on gath-ering scientific, medical, technical and legal information and using this information in an effective manner. I regularly stay in touch with the individuals and organisations active on issues of industrial pollution, corporate crimes and social justice and find ways to involve them in the Bhopal justice campaign. I also try my best to bring different sur-vivors' organisations together and encourage participation of children in political action.

How did the idea of BGIA (Bhopal Group of Information and Action) come to your mind?

In early 1986, I was kicked out of the organisation Zehreeli Gas Kand Sangharsh Morcha (of which I was a founder member) by one of its leaders for speaking out against the undem-ocratic decisions of the leadership. I had already experienced how sec-tarian and autocratic the Morcha was and how non-victims were dominat-ing the organisation. It is then that I realised the need for an organisation that supported organisations led by survivors. I also realised the critical need for information flow—both to and from Bhopal—and then decided to set up BGIA to meet this need.

What can be done about the chemical waste at Union Carbide?

First, there has to be a comprehen-sive scientific assessment of the depth and spread of the soil and groundwater contamination due to the hazardous waste on the surface or underground. Second, a strategy for remediation has to be worked out depending on the nature of con-taminants and their location. Based on the information available through a dozen studies, it is evident that the hazardous contaminants cannot be disposed of in any facility in India. Hazardous waste disposal facilities in Canada, Denmark and Germany may be able to dispose of Union Carbide waste from Bhopal in a safe and effective manner.

What should be done to the Union Carbide plant?

The plant and the factory premises need to be decontaminated and con-served as a modern industrial heri-tage and a memorial to the disaster in the same manner that Nazi concentration camps in Europe have been conserved.

Why is Bhopal still suffering?

Because the Indian and state govern-ments, irrespective of the political party in power, have been busy col-luding with the criminal American corporations and deliberately neglecting the much-needed task of medical care and economic and social rehabilitation. Because the majority of the survivors are poor, Muslims or low-caste Hindus, their lives continue to be seen as expend-able by the powers that be.

How can we prevent more Bhopals?

Only justice in Bhopal can pre-vent more Bhopals. Slow and silent Bhopals are continuing to occur all over the country in places includ-ing Patancheru in Andhra Pradesh, Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, Vapi in Gujarat, Taloja in Maharashtra, Haldia in West Bengal, 011ur in Kerala, Corlim in Goa and Malwa region in Punjab. Exemplary puni-tive action against the individuals [Warren Anderson] and agencies [Union Carbide, The Dow Chemical Company and others] responsible for the continuing disasters in Bhopal can be an effective deterrent to rou-tine corporate homicide, assault and toxic trespass of our bodies.

From here, where do you go?

Our struggle to ensure justice in Bhopal and a life of dignity for the survivors is far from over. There is much to be done against corporate crime and for ensuring a toxic-free future for all.

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