Protest

The 32 year old Bhopal Gas tragedy that killed more than 3000 people has several hundred tonnes of leftover toxic waste

The state (Madhya Pradesh) as well as the India central government and the US government seem to be ignoring the plight of victims and the remaining dangerous toxic waste. The leftover toxic waste is still a big danger to people in the area.

Indian Express reports:

  • Survivors of 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy on Saturday staged a protest in front of the now-defunct Union Carbide factory here on the 32nd anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster, with activists alleging that toxic waste lying there was still to be cleaned up.

  • “The abandoned factory’s toxic waste is still killing and maiming people living around its premises,” Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogee Sangharsh Morcha president, Balkrishna Namdeo said.

  • Rashida Bi, president of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, said those living in the radius of five km of the factory were forced to drink the contaminated underground water and “are contracting deadly diseases due to the seepage of toxic waste dumped in the factory premises”.

  • Union Carbide dumped 11 lakh tonnes of toxic waste on the premises during its 14 years of operations, she claimed.

  • “Right now, 340 tonnes of toxic waste is lying on the ground. The Dow Chemical Company which took over Carbide in 2001 is responsible for cleaning up the contamination of soil and groundwater in more than 50 sq km area around the factory,” she said.

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action says:

  • Till date there has been no scientific comprehensive assessment done to ascertain how far and how deep the chemicals have seeped.

  • As per earlier studies, poisonous chemicals have contaminated drinking water for several kilometers north and north-east to the factory affecting 22 communities.

  • But now our research shows 10 more communities are affected due to poor quality of water.

Further the Livemint report says:

  • In December 2010, the Centre had filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court seeking to enhance compensation from Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). But Dhingra said the case is yet to be heard and Centre doesn’t seem to be making any effort to push for an early hearing.

 

  • In pursuance of the orders of Supreme Court in April 2014, the environment ministry authorized the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which is India’s nodal pollution watchdog, to incinerate 10 tonnes of UCIL waste at treatment, storage and disposal facility during August, 2015.

 

  • The environment ministry further sought directions from the Supreme Court on the future roadmap for disposal of the remaining waste and remediation of the contaminated site.

 

“Why are we focused only on that 350 tonnes of waste as that is not even 5% of the total toxic waste. There are three ponds where waste was dumped in factory between 1977-84. One should be talking about those sources of contamination. There are 21 other locations inside factory where waste was buried. That waste is causing damage and that needs to be handled,” Dhingra added.

 

  • Experts point out that it’s a timely reminder for authorities to prepare a national level policy for contaminated sites.
  • “It is unfortunate that Bhopal is still unresolved. But even on a national level we don’t have comprehensive standards to tackle contaminated sites. For instance, one has to decide what is the post clean up use of a site? We need such comprehensive policy,” said Ravi Agarwal, director, Toxics Link, a New Delhi-based non-profit working on environmental issues.

HT shares a brief history:

  • Over the last three decades, there have been over 16 studies on toxic waste, soil and groundwater contamination.
  • Set up to manufacture pesticides, the Union Carbide plant ended up killing and maiming thousands
  • 1969: Union Carbide sets up pesticide plant in Bhopal. Hazardous waste routinely dumped in factory premises
  • 1977: Solar evaporation ponds built on 32 acres for dumping of hazardous wastes
  • December 2-3, 1984: Poisonous gas leak from Union Carbide pesticides factory
  • 1990: Citizen’s Environmental Laboratory in Boston identifies toxic materials in the soil and water surrounding the plant
  • 1991: State Research Laboratory of PHE department reports chemical contamination in samples taken from 11 tubewells in the area
  • 1994: NEERI reports that over one-fifth of the factory site had been used for dumping hazardous waste
  • 1996: State Research Laboratory of PHE department again reports chemical contamination in samples taken from 11 tubewells in the area
  • 1999: Greenpeace International conducts a study that finds Carbide plant area to be high in mercury and 12 volatile organochlorine compounds (VOCs)
  • January 2002: A scientific report finds lead and mercury in the breast milk of nursing mothers in communities around the plant
  • August 14, 2015: 10 tonnes of toxic waste incinerated at the treatment storage disposal facility (TDSF) in Pithampur on a trial basis, three years after Supreme Court order
  • December 2015: Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) forwards report of trial runs of toxic waste disposal to Union environment ministry.

Despite the agitation and these media coverage (Indian Express, Livemint, Hindustan Times and others) there seems to be no response from the respective governments.

Reference:

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Protest

Has India’s collective conscience risen against criminality in politics?

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The suspension of IAS Officer Durga Shakti Nagpal has seen unprecedented support from various sections of society. Spurred by the huge outcry from people, the media has been forced to take up the issue in a big way – every publication worth its salt is using “investigative journalism” to dig up more and more facts and conspiracy behind the suspension. It is obvious that she was acting against sand mining mafia and she had to be contained.

One Hindi news channel (Aaj Tak) has even gone ahead and done a sting operation on how the real story is shaping up behind the scenes. Narendra Bhati has claimed that it took him 40 minutes to get the suspension order. Why did he do it? Because IAS Officer Nagpal had filed a FIR against his close aide Omendra Khari in a sand mining case.

In view of these revelations, the Uttar Pradesh government stands naked but undeterred. The sting operation shows Bhati’s aide saying that the issue will help mobilize votes of Muslims and if they play their card right then the Samajwadi Party (SP) can get 36 Lok Sabha seats.

So far, no corrective action from the centre or the state government is expected. The most powerful person in the country, Sonia Gandhi, has indulged in political gimmickry by writing a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to look into the case.

She was much more proactive for her son-in-law Robert Vadra when another IAS officer Ashok Khemka took action against Vadra’s illegal deals- a superficial inquiry was conducted to get the case closed fast. Nobody could answer why no action was taken against Robert Vadra for making money through unscrupulous means.

The protests against Robert Vadra’s misuse of being a relative of Sonia Gandhi did not sustain long enough despite the agitations against corruption in India by the likes of Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and many more leaders and groups of people.

Now, with much larger support for Durga Shakti Nagpal, may we expect the citizens of the country to get bolder? As reported here, a retired civil servant, says the case has triggered the “collective conscience of the country to rise against criminality in politics”.

The DNA report quotes Surinder S. Jodhka, professor and chair at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems in Jawaharlal Nehru University:

“This is the whole thing about the arrival of the middle class. Five years back the middle class would have looked away, but we have seen the way they are now voicing concern over large number of issues, like the anti-corruption movement, or women’s safety issues, and the growing criminalisation of politics. It certainly indicates a change for the better.”

The outcry has been massive on Social Media but very few protests on the streets – some by activists of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and few more smaller groups. At the moment, it appears that the UP government is going to let the issue linger on till the protests fizzle out. They have 90 days to confirm or withdraw the suspension of Nagpal which is a long time for any protest to sustain.

Will the protests fizzle out or shall the people’s will prevail? Do we have it in us to make sure that the UP government is pressured long enough to get the suspension of IAS Durga Shakti Nagpal revoked?

At the Citizens For Action Forum, we will keep the heat up!

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Protest

We Demand that Suspended IAS officer Durga Shakti who took on Sand Mafia must be reinstated

Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had justified the suspension of IAS Durga Shakti Nagpal indicating her orders had triggered communal tension in Rabupura. However, police in Gautum Budh Nagar says there was no communal flare-up in the area as reported by TOI:

Station Officer of Rabupura police station, senior sub inspector (SSI) Ajay Kumar, told TOI on Monday that all was well in the area. “There was no tension at all. You can verify it from mediapersons who were present here in GB Nagar. I have reasons to believe that not one of them was even aware of the demolition till Sunday night,” Ajay Kumar said. Asked if there had been police deployment at the demolition site and if any criminal case had been lodged against mischief-mongers trying to fuel communal passions, the officer replied: “Jab kuchh hua hi nahi to case kis liye (Why would we lodge a case when nothing of this sort happened),”

India Today has provided a long list of upright officers who were hounded by the respective governments. The report further says:

While suspensions and unceremonious transfers are routine, officers have even paid with their lives in the last one-and-a-half-year of SP rule. They are hounded, humiliated and threatened by ministers, legislators and even local SP workers, who have the party leadership’s blessings.

Officers who had to bear the brunt:Image

ASHOK KHEMKA, HARYANA

Ashok Khemka, an IAS officer who was transferred in October last year for cancelling an alleged irregular land deal between Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, and DLF, was again shifted amid a controversy over irregularities in the Haryana Seeds Development Corporation that he unearthed during his short tenure of five months as its head.

MUGDHA SINHA RAJASTHAN

Mugdha Sinha, the first woman collector of Jhunjhunu, was transferred for taking on the local mafia. Organisations of farmers, traders and students came out in support of Sinha, who was posted in the district in September 2010.

POONAM MALAKONDAIAH ANDHRA PRADESH

Low-profile 1988-batch IAS officer Poonam Malakondaiah proved to be a hard nut to crack for politicians, businessmen and lobbyists. As the agriculture commissioner, she dragged multinational seed company Monsanto to the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission, following which the company had to reduce
the price of BT cotton seeds.

UMA SHANKAR, TAMIL NADU

Senior Dalit bureaucrat Uma Shankar, a 1990-batch IAS officer, was shunted to an insignificant post for unearthing cremation shed scam as additional collector of Madurai, which eventually led to J. Jayalalithaa’s poll defeat. He faced suspension for daring to take on the Marans as joint vigilance commissioner.

ANAND SWAROOP, UTTAR PRADESH

Known for his unorthodox style of policing and “daredevilry” in taking on UP’s political brass, Swaroop, a 1994-batch IPS officer, has been transferred 38 times in last 18 years. The standing joke is that by the time he unpacks his stuff, his bosses hand him his transfer order.

VIKAS KUMAR, RAJASTHAN

IPS officer Vikas Kumar was transferred out of Bharatpur district after he cracked down on illegal mining mafia in early 2012. A software engineer from IIT-Kanpur, Kumar was transferred at a time when police investigation was close to identifying the powerful kingpins behind illegal mining.

DAMAYANTI SEN, WEST BENGAL

Kolkata Police crime wing’s first woman chief Damayanti Sen, the IPS officer who cracked the Park Street gang rape case in February 2012, was transferred to a relatively low profile posting two months later for proving CM Mamata Banerjee wrong. She was transferred again within a year to Darjeeling as the new Deputy Inspector General in February this year.

SAMIT SHARMA, RAJASTHAN

Chittorgarh collector Samit Sharma was shunted out in 2010 because he refused to sack a clerk for failing to stand up when a local Congress MLA entered his office. Over 12,000 government employees went on mass leave to protest against the transfer, but it had no effect on the state government

RAHUL SHARMA, GUJARAT

A 1992-batch IPS officer, Rahul Sharma ruffled the feathers of the political dispensation during the Gujarat riots. As the SP of Bhavnagar in 2002, Sharma opened fire at a Hindu mob. Two months later, he was shunted out to a low-profile post in Ahmedabad police control room.

SANJIV CHATURVEDI, HARYANA

A 2002-batch Haryana cadre Indian Forest Service officer, Sanjiv Chaturvedi had five criminal cases slapped on him for taking on the authorities. He petitioned the Supreme Court in 2012 requesting a CBI inquiry into numerous scams detected by him during his sevenyear service in Haryana.

OFFICERS WHO HAD TO DIE

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