Union Carbide plant not to be opened to public now

Bhopal, Nov 27 (Inditop.com) The Madhya Pradesh government has finally decided not to open the notorious Union Carbide factory to the public on the 25th anniversary of the gas leak holocaust, on the ground that the model code of conduct for the Bhopal Municipal Corporation elections is in force.

The state’s Gas Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Babulal Gaur had in the first week of November announced the intention to open up the premises for a week to mark the 25th anniversary of the gas leak that killed thousands and maimed thousands more. He wanted to show that the factory campus was perfectly safe now.

But the plan was opposed by the victims’ organisations. The government said it would seek permission of the Madhya Pradesh High Court to open up the premises. Now after the court has given its permission, the government has backtracked on the move due to the model code of conduct.

The court had on Wednesday permitted the state government to open up the premises from Nov 28 to Dec 8 on condition that safety precautions were taken and that people be kept at least 20 metres away from the actual factory.

However, Gaur told IANS Friday: “We do not want to violate the code of conduct. The factory would be surely opened up, but may be in January after the election process is over.”

Associations of the victims of the Dec 2-3, 1984 Bhopal gas leak however said that the government never intended to open the factory.

“The announcement to open the factory was simply a ploy to divert attention from the real issues confronting the victims. The aim was to benefit Dow Chemicals and divest it of the responsibility of hazardous waste cleaning on the campus.

“The opening was never intended, it was a diversion for the national and the international media from actual issues,” said Abdul Jabbar of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS).

Meanwhile, three organisations working for the gas leak victims have Thursday launched a campaign to “expose those in the government working for the benefit of Dow Chemicals”, the current owner of Union Carbide from whose plant the deadly gas had leaked out, killing and maiming thousands.

Leaders of the three organisations — Satinath Sarangi and Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action, Rashida Bi and Champa Devi Shukla of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh and Syed M. Irfan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha — accused both the Madhya Pradesh and central governments of working to provide relief to the American multinational.

Declaring the launch of the ‘Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate’ (Crow bites Liars) campaign to nail the state government’s “lies”, these groups are organising “Benign Buffet” Saturday at which members of the state cabinet and the bureaucracy have been invited to eat such “delicacies” as “semi-processed pesticide on watercress” and “Lime Sludge Mousse”.

Gwalior-based Defence Research Development Establishment’s (DRDE) director R. Vijayraghavan and the head of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute at Nagpur Tapan Chakravarty, who had certified Union Carbide’s chemical wastes to be “orally ingestible” were also invited to the “Benign Buffet”.