Four Indian human rights activists connected to the Bhopal chemical disaster of 1984 will be in the San Francisco Bay Area May 26 and 27 as part of a two-dozen city tour of the United States intended to raise awareness about the ongoing human suffering in this central Indian region, according to a press release issued by coordinators of the tour, the International Campaign for Justice In Bhopal.
The “Second Generation Survivor Tour,” which began on April 14 and will continue through June 1, is the first of many 25th anniversary events planned to commemorate the tragedy of December 3, 1984 when 27 tons of lethal gases leaked from Union Carbide’s pesticide factory, immediately killing 8,000 people and poisoning thousands of others. Around the world human rights, legal, environmental health and other experts are calling for Dow Chemical, the current owner of Union Carbide, to be held accountable for this atrocity.
On the tour are:
Safreen Khan’s mother was exposed to the gas from the Bhopal disaster in 1984. Having nowhere else to go Safreen and her family continue to live in the area and consume poisoned water daily.
Sarita Malviya is a resident of one of the many water-contaminated communities living around the Union Carbide factory. She is one of the founding members of Children Against Dow-Carbide, a group that meets weekly with about 60 members ages 6 to 18.
Rachna Dhingra was six years old and living in Delhi when disaster struck Bhopal. After working in the U.S. for a few years she decided to move back to India and commit her life to working with the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Satinath “Sathyu” Sarangiis a metallurgical engineer turned activist who arrived in Bhopal a day after the disaster and stayed on to become a key figure in the struggle for justice. He is a founding trustee of the Sambhavna Clinic, a nonprofit dedicated to the holistic treatment of gas-affected persons.
Today, at least 150,000 people, including children born to parents who survived the disaster, are suffering from exposure-related health effects such as cancer, neurological damage and mental illness, according to tour coordinators. More than 10,000 people are still forced to drink water laced with alarmingly high levels of mercury, carbon tetrachloride and other persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.
Dow Chemical is being urged to: 1) Clean up the poisoned groundwater and contaminated areas within and outside the factory; 2) Arrange for long-term economic rehabilitation of survivors whose livelihoods have suffered as a consequence of the disaster; and 3) Submit to the ongoing criminal and civil proceedings as today’s owner of Union Carbide, which stands accused in Bhopal court and has been declared a fugitive from justice, according to the coordinators of the Bhopal campaign.
“While many people have heard of Bhopal, most do not realize children are being poisoned daily by Dow's chemicals in their water, and an estimated 10-15 people still die monthly from exposure,” said Shana Ortman, North American coordinator for the Bhopal campaign. “If Americans knew that thousands of children are at risk for birth defects and crippling illness due to Dow's unwillingness to clean up its mess, there might be greater pressure on Dow to clean up.”