From Kathmandu, Friday, June 9, 2006

PLEASE SEND ON

IN THIS ISSUE OF CDDB :


Narmada, Bhopal, and Campaign Issues

  1. Bollywood love story caught in political storm (The Guardian, June 6)
  2. Sanctity of freedom of speech (Rajindar Sachar, June 5/6)
  3. Hundreds view India dam row film (BBC, June 7)

NARMADA Baroda

  1. One Day Fast in Support of NBA in Haryana on 15th June 2006 (NAPM and Asha Parivar Haryana, June 7)
  2. Badwani Hosts Large Convention On Water; Village Communities Resolve To Fight To Safeguard Their Water (NBA Baroda, June 8)
  3. Narmada Dam Should Help Tribals: B.G. Verghese (IANS, NewKerala?.com, June 8)

NARMADA Maheshwar

  1. Public protest and fast by Maheshwar dam oustees in Mumbai on May 30 (NBA Maheshwar, May 31 / June 7)

BHOPAL

  1. 6 Bhopal gas victims die, docs face flak (Indo-Asian News Service, Hindustan Times, June 6)
  2. BGPMUS demands formation of autonomous body (NewKerala.com, June 3)
  3. The United States won't compensate Vietnam's Agent Orange victims (Agence France Presse, June 5)

"There Is A Fury Building Up Across India" (Arundhati Roy, April 29 – see CDDB 29)

Jai Sen, for CACIM

Note : The CDDB (CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin) is a digest of material on the struggles that have been going on for twenty and more years, and have recently intensified, in Bhopal, the Narmada valley, and Delhi, for a place to live in security and dignity – and everything that goes with that. The CDDB series started during late March and April 2006, when all three movements were holding protests in Delhi, and with the Bhopal and Narmada movements on ‘dharna’ (sit-down strike) simultaneously at a place called ‘Jantar Mantar’ in the city. See CDDB 1 and 2 for more details on Jantar Mantar and the demos. All back issues of this Bulletin (the CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin), number 0 onwards, are available @ : http://www.cacim.net/twiki/tiki-view_articles.php?type=article&topic=1 http://www.cacim.net/twiki/tiki-view_articles.php?type=article&topic=1

Disclaimer : The views of the author/s of the articles featured here are not necessarily those of this Bulletin (and vice versa). You may copy and print extracts from this Bulletin for your own personal and non-commercial use only.

Some sites for more information : Go to www.cacim.net (external link) http://www.cacim.net and see ‘Newsclippings’ and ‘Links’.


[1] BOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY CAUGHT IN POLITICAL STORM

On 6.6.06 6:44 pm, "irn-sasia@lists.irn.org" wrote:

The Guardian
Staff and agencies
Tuesday June 6, 2006
http://film.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,1791339,00.html

An innocent Bollywood love story has been kept out of cinemas after it was caught up in blazing political controversy.

Fanaa has all the ingredients of a classic Bollywood hit: it describes the blossoming love between a blind girl and a tourist guide and it stars Indian heartthrob Aamir Khan. It opened across India last month and had been doing brisk business nearly everywhere.

Except in one place: the western province of Gujarat, where cinema owners are refusing to show the film. They fear political protests will take place in front of their venues because Khan recently criticised a controversial dam project.

About 35,000 people will lose their homes when the Narmada dam is completed, and last month, Khan called on the provincial government to adequately compensate people displaced by its construction. Khan's comments were not to the liking of the two main political parties in Gujarat, Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, who called for the film not to be released in the province. Most cinema owners obliged.

Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt, who is unconnected to Fanaa, filed a petition to India's Supreme Court asking that cinema owners should get special police protection if they screened Fanaa, on the grounds that freedom of speech was under threat. Yesterday, the court refused the petition, saying that cinemas could ask for help from local police.

But it seems most cinema chains are refusing to screen Fanaa on political grounds. "Our stance remains the same, the Supreme Court decision notwithstanding. It's never been a question of police protection; the people of Gujarat are only seeking an apology from Aamir Khan," said the president of Multiplex Association of Gujarat, Manubhai Patel. Khan has so far refused to apologise for his comments.

The Narmada dam project has been at the centre of protests for years. Supporters say it will provide electricity, irrigation and drinking water for 40 million people. Opponents to the project say it is a human and environmental disaster.


[2] SANCTITY OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH

On 6.6.06 2:06 pm, "Sanjay Sangvai" wrote:

Rajindar Sachar, June 5 2006

The response of public at large has been very critical at the BJP lumpen brigade threatening theatre owners and cinema-goers who dare to show inclination to see Amir Khan's film, and all this because the actor has shown concern for the oustees of Narmada Dam. But the response of the main political parties – Congress and BJP is very disturbing. One is amazed that any political party can be so shame-faced as to say that what is being done by one of its wings in Gujarat is of no concern to it. What kind of political party does it pretend to it if the various units in the State are free to act in any manner without the Central leadership owning the responsibility. That BJP should behave in such a manner is understandable because of its past record but that the Congress should take the same stand shows how principled politics has gone out of window in our country. I should have thought that all the political parties would have joined the NGOs in Gujarat in taking a firm stand against this action of the BJP youth brigade.

The argument that people are very much concerned with the Narmada project and any person who even out of compassion supports the oustees' case (even though he has not said about the viability of the project) has to take the risk. Frankly, many of us do not buy the empty slogan of Right of Development by Modi and his minions. We fully endorse the anguished cry of the oustees as to how the bureaucratic decisions without prior consultation with affected disadvantaged section and by just parroting the refrain that a price has to be paid is a sufficient answer but without answering as to why the sacrifice must always be paid by the disadvantaged and the tribals and the benefits go only to the powerful ones political as well as moneyed.

But apart from viability a larger question of fundamental right of free speech is involved. It is well settled that expression by means of motion picture is an exercise of right of freedom of speech. BJP cannot force its view on others who have a different view. Of course it is open to anyone to take different view but to indulge in action causing danger of physical safety is not permitted. As a matter of fact Govt. of Gujarat would make itself seriously in danger being taken over if it persists in its benign silence and does not take active steps to ensure safety to the theatre owners if they decide to open their theatres to this picture. There is nothing to suggest that the picture has any objectionable scenes. It has complied with law and has got its sanction from the concerned authorities. In the words of Supreme Court if groups like Gujarat are permitted to threaten force, it would tantamount to negation of the rule of law and a surrender to blackmail and intimidation. The Supreme Court has categorically held that in such circumstances it is the duty of the State to protect the freedom of expression since it is a liberty guaranteed against the State. The State cannot plead its inability to handle the hostile audience problem. It is its obligatory duty to prevent it and protect the freedom of expression. If the State of Gujarat pleads its inability to control it, it obviously means a failure of the constitutional machinery, as the State has a duty under Articles 355 to ensure that the Govt. is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. Now if the actions of the lumpen BJP youth continues and the threat, violence and intimidation against the theatre owners and the safety of the cinema goers cannot be assured by Govt. of Gujarat by giving due protection, a situation must be deemed to have arisen in which the Govt. of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

In such a situation there would be no other option for the President but to dismiss the Govt. of Gujarat and assume to himself all the functions of the Govt. of the State under Article 356 of the Constitution. I feel that to allow like situation to continue in Gujarat poses a great danger to democracy and may be first unrecognized step towards an area of intolerance and given encouragement to neo fascists tendency of certain political party. Let us not forget that these activities of Gujarat youth pose a danger to the Indian Constitution and State As a matter of fact, law is so clear that courts have even held that power under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure cannot be used to curtail the rights of citizens merely because the applicant apprehends breach of peace or inconvenience or nuisance.

So thus no party can be interdicted for doing an act in exercise of his constitutional rights on the ground that goons of BJP youth will break-up the cinema halls and interfere with the exercise of right of individuals to see the film. The matter is too urgent and must compel all the political parties to sit down and stop the vulgar dance of death and goondaism going on in Gujarat, in the name of the poor starved peasants being deprived of the water. One wishes the BJP youth were to read the report of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India who has opined that the water available even upto the 110 mt. dam height is being used only upto 10 to 25% because of the failure of the Modi Govt. to construct the connecting links which could carry water to the starved areas of the State - so much for the pretensions for the concern of the poor peasants shown by the Modi Govt. and his gang of youths.

No country can prosper if open expression of speech is suppressed. As the Supreme Court has said "……..one of the basic values of a free society to which we are wedded under our Constitution, that there must be freedom not only for the thought that we cherish, but also for the thought that we hate…….."

(RAJINDAR SACHAR)
New Delhi
Dated : 05.06.2006

Rajindar Sachar
Chief Justice (Retd.)
High Court of Delhi, New Delhi
UN Special Rapporteur on Housing
Member, U.N. Sub-Commission? on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (Ex.)
President, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) India (Ex.)
A-19, New Friends Colony
New Delhi-110 065 (India)
Tele : 091-11-26847786, 26830194
Fax : 091-11-26313393
E-mail : rsachar1@vsnl.net


[3] HUNDREDS VIEW INDIA DAM ROW FILM

Movie-goers in western India have been packing a theatre to see a film kept off other screens amid protests over its star's criticism of a dam project.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/entertainment/5056310.stm (external link)
Published: 2006/06/07 14:40:10 GMT

The cinema, in Jamnagar, Gujarat, is being guarded by armed police for screenings of Fanaa. Other owners have refused to show it, fearing protests.

About 50 activists staged a protest at the time of the first showing.

Political parties opposed Fanaa's release in the state over Aamir Khan's comments about the Narmada dam project.

Vimal Madam, owner of the Jamnagar cinema, said: "People want to watch the movie. I'm here to do business, not politics."

He said screenings were sold out for three days.

Court ruling

The Cinema Hall Owners' Federation of Surat, another Gujarat town, said it would decide whether to screen Fanaa after meeting local police and politicians.

India's Supreme Court on Monday refused to order protection for cinemas showing the film, but said cinema owners could approach local police for security.

Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt, who was not involved with Fanaa, had filed a petition seeking police protection for cinemas, arguing that the right to freedom of speech was being violated.

Following the court ruling, cinema owners reiterated that they had no intention of showing the Bollywood hit, the Press Trust of India reported.

The Bharatiya Janata and Congress political parties have opposed Fanaa's release in Gujarat, after Khan called on the government to adequately compensate people displaced by the Narmada dam's construction in the state.

The Save Narmada Movement says the state government has failed to provide adequate rehabilitation for the 35,000 people whose villages will be submerged when the dam is constructed.

Supporters of the project claim that it will supply drinking water to 40m people, irrigate land and generate electricity. ___ © BBC MMVI


[4]

On 7.6.06 3:43 pm, "baroda@narmada.org" wrote:

ONE DAY FAST IN SUPPORT OF NBA IN HARYANA ON 15TH JUNE 2006

June 7th, 2006

Dear Friends,

The Narmada struggle has highlighted the seriousness of forced eviction of farmers and other vulnerable communities in the name of development. The NBA is facing its most severe challenge when thousands of people will become refugees on there own land in the coming monsoon. In solidarity with the Narmada struggle, NAPM and Asha Parivar Haryana is holding a day-long fast on 15th, June 2006.

Date - 15-06-2006 Time – 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.

Venue - Gandhi Chowk, Elnabad, Sirsa, Haryana.

We request all of you to join the fast for expressing solidarity with NBA and registering our protest against irrational development policies which forcibly evict millions form there livelihood and habitats.

Contacts- Sumit-098960450907, Mahaveer Bahi, Ramphaldhiya-09416388715, Faisal Khan- cpchindia@yahoo.com


[5]

On 8.6.06 10:51 pm, "baroda@narmada.org" wrote:

8 June, 2006

NBA Press Release

BADWANI HOSTS LARGE CONVENTION ON WATER; VILLAGE COMMUNITIES RESOLVE TO FIGHT TO SAFEGUARD THEIR WATER

The farmers, labourers, fisher-folk, men and women of the Narmada Valley have raised yet another challenge to the government today, in the Convention on water which concluded at the Nagar Palika in Badwani today. The special guest at the Convention was Shri Rajendra Singh, renowned Magasaysay-Award? winner for his work in reviving rivers and community watershed management work. Together they all raised the battle cry not to lose the rights over the waters of the Narmada river at the behest of the Sardar Sarovar dam! On one hand, the dam is being raised to the height of 122 metres without completing rehabilitation; on the other hand, Gujarat is claiming sole rights over the waters of the river. In this situation, the people living along the banks of the river for centuries in villages and towns like Badwani gathered here to ask the crucial question: why don‚t we have the right over the water that is at our doorstep when the government wants to take this water all the way to Kutch? What

Rajendra Singhji has revived rivers even in the desert of Rajasthan, where rainfall levels are very low. He alerted all those gathered at the convention that after displacing thousands of families from their fertile lands in Nimad by building this large dam, the next ploy of the government would be to take away rights over the water from the local community and give it to large companies. He talked about the 2002 Water Policy and the 2003 WTO agreement whereby water has been turned into a marketable commodity! And this has been shamelessly accepted by our government! It is critical for us to challenge this attack on the most basic resource. Rajendra Singhji called for the people of the Narmada Bachao Andolan to resist this attack on the land, water, irrigation and pipelines by the Sardar Sarovar dam, to accept this challenge and to take the struggle into the next phase.

Medha Patkar said that despite the destruction being unleashed by the Sardar Sarovar dam, which is drowning people without rehabilitation, and thousands of hectares of fertile land will soon be deprived even of its irrigation facilities, now there will be a struggle, which will teach a lesson to Coca-Cola? and other companies as well the Government. This struggle will prove that the movement wants development, which means using local resources to satisfy local needs. We will stop the water in our fields, enriching the soil and replenishing the groundwater, and will not let the reservoir fill. Kachar Singh of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, also emphasized the need to satisfy local needs through local resources, and using the right to work as in the Employment Guarantee Act for this purpose of conserving our water and land. He also emphasised the need for collaboration between residents of cities and villages.

The Chairman of the Badwani Municipal Corporation, Mr. Rajan Mandloi talked in detail about the water crisis in Badwani. He explained how the amount of water allocated to Badwani town is based on the population data of 1991, which is 33,000, and thus that the present water supply is bound to be inadequate. And that is why even being 5 kilometres from the Narmada, Badawani gets water only once in 3 days. Even the current water facilities will be drowned by the Sardar Sarovar caused flooding. And the NVDA, which is responsible for making alternative arrangements, has taken a sided decision, which is far from adequate. NVDA‚s decisions taken without consulting us, members of the municipality, is very unfair. We will have to fight together in this movement.

Lokendra Dhangar also told the gathering that the Saradar Sarovar Project would destroy the irrigation pipelines from the Narmada, which were being used to irrigate large parts of Nimad. This has also been made amply clear by the a letter written by the Gujarat Government dated 29.11.2001 which clearly states that the Gujarat Government has not agreed to any form of lift irrigation from the Narmada.

Ex-Chairman? of the Nagar Palika, along with Om Dada Jain, Ambaram Mukati, Devendra Tomar, Sajanbai Yadav, Luharia Bhai and Lokendra Dhangar gave a warning to everyone and took a pledge saying that we will not let anyone loot our lush fields and heritage.

The programme ended with all participants taking the pledge with Rajendra Singh ji.

Resolution

We, residents of the Narmada valley, for generations, farmers-workers-fisherfolk, boatmen, residents of villages and cities, agree that Narmada is our mother. The waters of the Narmada, the land, trees and forests that are here, are all part of our heritage. Today we will challenge the Government, which is destroying us with the Sardar Sarovar. We will not move without rehabilitation.

The Government, which is snatching away our water, our irrigation, is cheating us. We will not sell our water to increase the riches of foreign companies like Coca-Cola? and Pepsi. We will protect our right to water and preserve it. We will continue to assert our right over the fish in the river. We will thrive not on the dole of the Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh Governments, but rather on our relationship with our soil, water, trees etc. Our villages strive to fulfill our water needs by making small lakes and small dams.

We will fight, we will win!

Ashish Mandloi, Umesh Patidar, Kamla Yadav, Shantabehen, Dipti Bhatnagar

Narmada Bachao Andolan
- 62 Gandhi Marg, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh 451551. Ph: 07290-222464
- c/o B-13 Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Vadodara, Gujarat 390023. Ph: 0265-2282232
- Maitri Niwas, Tembewadi, Dhadgaon, dist Nandurbar, Maharashtra. Ph: 02595-220620


[6] NARMADA DAM SHOULD HELP TRIBALS: B.G. VERGHESE

Posted on 08 June, 2006 # IANS
http://www.newkerala.com/news3.php?action=fullnews&id=6918

Ahmedabad: Senior journalist B.G. Verghese here Thursday suggested that a section of income from the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river be allocated to tribals. Else, Maoist violence will erupt.

"The rehabilitated tribals were uplifted in a single stroke from rain-fed subsistence level farming to the irrigated one, but those unaffected by the project witness no change," ardent supporter of dam Verghese said in his lecture on "Narmada, displacement and tribals" here.

"To eradicate the economic disparity among tribals caused by the dam, mainly among Bhils inhabiting the area above the dam, the government should initiate development measures by allocating a chunk of resources gained. Else, the Naxal (Maoist) violence might grip this part of the country too," he said citing an example of a dam in Ghana, where resources are allocated to project affected area and not to affected families only.

Verghese advised that institutions should be set up in Kevadia, Gujarat where the dam is situated, to ensure the development of tribals.

"Establish a university and name it after some social worker like Thakkar Bapa or any of the Bhil leaders," he said.

Narmada dam found itself in a storm of controversy after the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) allowed increasing its height from 110.64 to 121.92 metres a few months ago.


[7]

On 7.6.06 9:47am, "Pradyumna S. Singh" wrote:

Narmada Bachao Andolan
Jail Road, Mandleshwar,District Khargone, M.P.
2,Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk, Khandwa,M.P.
Telefax : 07283-233162, 0733-2228418
E-mail : nobigdam@sancharnet.in

Press Note : 31st June [sic, May] 2006

PUBLIC PROTEST AND FAST BY MAHESHWAR DAM OUSTEES IN MUMBAI ON MAY 30

No public money of FI's or public issue in Maheshwar Project

RBI must institute CBI enquiry

Around 1000 women and men affected by the Maheshwar Hydel Project being built in the Narmada valley demonstrated at Churchgate in Mumbai on the 29th of May 2006. On the 30th of May they helld a one day fast on at Azad Maidan appealing to the LIC, GIC and IDBI not to contribute equity into the Maheshwar Hydel Project and to the RBI to institute a CBI enquiry into the financial irregularities related to the Project, and its promoters. Delegations of activists and affected village leaders held meetings with the senior management of the LIC, GIC and IDBI and requested them not to finance this destructive Project. On the 1st of June, the NBA activists met senior SEBI officials and requested them not to permit any public issue by the Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Project promoted by the S. Kumars group in light of the ongoing criminal proceedings against the Promoters by the Economic Offences Wing of the Government of Madhya Pradesh on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and fraud.

It may be noted that the work on the Maheshwar dam has been resumed after a gap of 5 years and the SMHPCL is trying to tie up the finances for the Project and achieve financial closure in the coming months. They have asked the IDBI, LIC and GIC to pick up Rs. 90 crores equity in the Project. BHEL has been separately asked to pick up Rs. 70 crores equity in the Project. The IFCI has also been asked to convert their front-end fees still unpaid by the Company into Rs. 19.5 crores equity. The Promoters are also obtaining loans amounting to Rs. 250 crores from the REC (Rural Electrification Corporation), Rs. 259 crores from HUDCO and Rs. 700 crores from the PFC (Power Finance Corporation). It is also reliably learnt that the Company is planning a Rs. 700 crores public issue in the near future and has approached underwriters for this purpose.

Delegations of NBA activists and the affected villagers who met the LIC, GIC and IDBI officials told them that the Maheshwar Project is deeply flawed on financial, social and technical counts. They pointed out that no public money could be given to the Project in the light of RBI rules because of the pending criminal charges against the S.Kumars Directors Shri Mukul Kasliwal, Shri Vikas Kasliwal, Shri SN Modak and Shri Dalal with regard to the ICD scam in Madhya Pradesh wherein erstwhile Managing Directors and officials of the Madhya Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation colluded with the management of 42 companies to disburse Rs. 380 crores of loans to 42 defaulting companies without obtaining proper security, proper appraisal and documentation and above the allowed Rs. 3 crore limit. The S. Kumars company - Induj Enertech Limited for example was given Rs. 44.75 crores although the MPSIDC was allowed to lend only up to Rs. 3 crores to any single company. Similarly another S.Kumars company - Modak Rubber and Textiles Limited was given a loan of Rs. 3.25 crores although it had a paid up capital of Rs. 9 lakhs only.

This money had been obtained by the MPSIDC from 176 Employees Provident funds, pension funds and gratuity funds and cooperative institutions and banks. Since the companies defaulted on these public monies, the money could not be returned and eventually the depositors filed cases against the MPSIDC. The State Government then obtained the legal opinion of the Advocate General of Madhya Pradesh and based on his opinion, the Economic Offences Wing of the Government of Madhya Pradesh filed cases against the management of the defaulter companies including two S.Kumars groups - Induj Enertech Limited, Modak Rubber and Textiles, several other defaulting companies and two erstwhile Managing Directors of MPSIDC on charges of 407, 420 and 120 B of the Indian Penal Code.

It may be noted that the Maheshwar Project is to be built on the Narmada river and is a privatized project that was given to the S.Kumars group in 1992. This Project, if built is slated to submerge homes and irrigated agricultural lands of over 1,00,000 farmers, fisher people and boatpeople in 61 villages in the fertile plains of the Narmada valley, scores of sand quarries, hundreds of acres of riverbed draw-down land and the richest fresh water fisheries in the Narmada valley. This project is also slated to produce extensive water-logging. It may be noted that the land "availability" shown for this Project does not exist in reality and this has been confirmed by several Reports of the State Government, Central Government, German Development Ministry and others in the last few years. Moreover around 8000 Kewat, Kahar and Dalit families have been left out of the reckoning. It is clear that if the dam is built in the present circumstances, there is no likelihood of the lands and livelihoods of the farmers as well as the landless families ever being replaced.

The utility of this Project is also fundamentally in question. Within a decade of privatization of this project, the proposed outlay for this Project has been increased by five times from Rs. 465 crores to Rs. 2233 crores. It is now anticipated that the cost of this Project will around Rs. 4-5 per kWh. It is clear that such expensive power can be purchased neither by the State Electricity Board nor by ordinary consumers. Yet, the Power Purchase Agreement for this Project states that the Government of Madhya Pradesh will have to pay the promoters around Rs. 500 crores annually for the next 35 years whether this power can be sold or not, and whether it is even produced or not for the first seven years. Thus building this Project whose power may not even be possible to purchase would still mean putting an amount of Rs. 15,000 crores over the next 30 years in jeopardy. Moreover the Project will produce only 2 - 3 % of the total requirements of Madhya Pradesh power where as the T&D loss in the state is 42% and the MPERC (Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Regulatory Commission) had asked the MPSEB to reduce the losses up to 24% as far back as 2001. Clearly if the available power is saved, it will amount to several Maheshwars and obviate the need for such destructive and expensive projects.

It may be noted that the oustees had protested at the Ministry of Environment, REC and PFC offices in New Delhi on the 11th and 12th of May against their proposed involvement in the financing of the Project and met the senior management of REC, IFCI and HUDCO. The NBA has also asked the MOEF to revoke the environmental clearance.

Alok Agarwal
Sushila bai


[8]

On 7.6.06 12:05am, "Shweta Narayan" wrote:

6 BHOPAL GAS VICTIMS DIE, DOCS FACE FLAK

Indo-Asian? News Service
Hindustan Times
Bhopal, June 6, 2006

With six more victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy dying, doctors at a hospital that was set up in Bhopal to treat the affected people are being accused of negligence.

"More than six people have died in the past two months due to the sheer negligence of the BMHRC management," alleged Abdul Jabbar, convenor of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS), a pressure group working for the cause of the gas tragedy victims.

The BMHRC Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre came into being for the treatment of those suffering from the after-effects of the tonnes of lethal Methyl Isocyanate gas that leaked out of Union Carbide's pesticide plant on the night of December 2, 1984, killing over 1,700 people instantly and affecting thousands for life.

The hospital management is often accused of giving priority to private patients at the cost of gas victims for whom the hospital was established.

Six gas tragedy victims are reported to have died in the past two months.

"The doctors fitted a respiratory pipe into my father's throat that led to excessive bleeding and resulted in his death," claimed Noor Jahan, daughter of Abdul Hamid who died last month.

The BMHRC, which has a corpus of nearly Rs 3.88 billion (about $83 million), has been built and is run by funds provided by the Union Carbide Corp, after a Supreme Court ruling to that effect.

Jabbar's brother died last month after he was reportedly not admitted to the hospital.

"I took my brother to the BMHRC for treatment on the 3rd, 4th and 20th (of May) but it was only on the 24th that they admitted him. Had they admitted him the very first day, he would not have died," said Jabbar.

He is now demanding that the Supreme Court oversee the day-to-day functioning of the hospital because "the management gives preference to private patients at the cost of gas victims for whom the hospital was established.

"All I am asking for is that (the Bhopal) gas tragedy victims should get the right treatment and not be ignored," said Jabbar.

"Ignorance and carelessness have become the bane of the BMHRC," said Shaukat Ali, who lost her sister Afsar Jahan May 6. She alleged that her sister died after she was administered a wrong injection.

Five other gas victims Kewal Kumar Sharma, Vishnu Kumar Vyas, Nandlal Panthi, Mazhar Khan and Hasina Bi are reported to have died in the last two months.

This is not the first time the BMHRC has come in for criticism for ignoring the interests of the gas victims. Earlier too there have been complaints by patients and relatives that doctors deny treatment to the gas victims.

Activists say children born after the disaster are suffering from chronic respiratory and liver ailments but they are without any medical cover in spite of the Supreme Court's directives.

According to an international medical commission, the victims suffer from serious health problems that are being misdiagnosed or ignored by local doctors.

BMHRC director Indranil Mittra, however, claimed they provide treatment only after the formalities are done, "but the patients are quite annoyed with the long and complex process of registration."


[9] BGPMUS demands formation of autonomous body

http://www.newkerala.com/news3.php?action=fullnews&id=4526
Posted on 03 June, 2006

Bhopal: Alleging neglect of gas victims by Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) today demanded formation of an autonomous body through merger of all relief hospitals for improved treatment of those affected by the 1984 tragedy.

"Victims of Bhopal gas tragedy are being denied proper medical treatment at BMHRC, which was set up to provide them health services. Now only other patients are getting medical facilities at the centre," Sangathan Convenor Abdul Jabbar alleged at a press conference here.

Gas victims are made to battle for survival due to neglect by doctors at BMHRC, he claimed and sought merger of all gas relief hospitals set up for providing treatment to those affected by the disaster and formation of a single autonomous body to ensure better facilities.

Claiming that some departments in BMHRC have been closed down, Jabbar said gas victims are facing difficulties in getting treatment in faculties like cardiology.

Demanding resignation by all members of the hospital's managing committee, he said its functioning should be monitored on day-to-day basis by the Supreme Court.


[10] THE UNITED STATES WON'T COMPENSATE VIETNAM'S AGENT ORANGE VICTIMS

On 7.6.06 8:42 pm, "Terry Allan" wrote:
Mon Jun 5 2006, 3:23 PM ET

The United States won't compensate Vietnam's Agent Orange victims but will offer advice on dealing with the wartime defoliant, a US official said, during a visit by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

When Rumsfeld met Defence Minister Pham Van Tra and military officials, the Vietnamese side had raised the issue of dioxin exposure and contamination from Agent Orange, the senior official said on the sidelines of the visit.

"What we can do is make scientific information available, historical archival information we might have, ... technical advice on how to deal with the situation," the official said.

"We're ready to do more. We agreed to sit down at the expert level and see what we can do," he said.

US forces widely sprayed Agent Orange, which contained the lethal chemical dioxin, in southern Vietnam during the conflict to deprive enemy guerrillas of forest cover and destroy food crops.

Vietnam says millions of its people have suffered a range of illnesses and birth defects as a result of the use of the chemical.

A New York court last year rejected a Vietnamese lawsuit against US chemical giants Monsanto and Dow Chemical, who manufactured the herbicide during the war. The Vietnamese side has appealed.

In April, visiting US Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson was pressed by Vietnamese journalists on why the United States compensates its own veterans for health defects linked to the chemical, but not Vietnam's.

Copyright © 2006 Agence France Presse