WikiLeaks revelations on Bhopal gas tragedy: NGOs demand fresh probe
Bhopal: The social organisations fighting for justice to the surviving victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy have demanded a fresh probe into the tragedy and the delay in their settlement of claims based on a recent Wikileaks revelations here on Wednesday.
The whistleblower website has release controversial cables related to Indian government's communications with US and other countries some of which were related to Bhopal gas tragedy in December 1984.
Quoting from the whistleblower website's releases, Satinath Sarangi, one of the activists said "it is clear that the Federal government was hand in glove with the Union Carbide Company and the Dow Chemicals under the pressure from the United States of America (USA) government".
The unholy alliance, he said was there even before the world's worst industrial disaster and thus, its victims were denied compensation and other basic facilities for a restarting their lives, he told media persons.
Citing from recently released documents from Wikileaks' "Kissinger Cables," leaders of the organisations said former Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia welcomed Dow investments in India and contradicted the Government of India's stated position on Dow's liabilities in India.
A cable sent by Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi Steven J White on July 27, 2007 says "During the CEO forum event in October 2006, GOI officials including Commerce Minister Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia stated that they welcomed further Dow investment in India and did not believe that Dow was responsible for the disaster site clean-up."
US Ambassador David Mulford is reported to be urging the Government of India to "drop its claims against Dow" in a cable sent on September 18, 2007. In reply Ahluwalia assures the Ambassador that the Government of India does not hold Dow responsible for the cleanup but is unable to withdraw its claims against Dow because of "active and vocal" NGOs.
According to the cable Ahluwalia then advised the Ambassador to discuss the issue of Dow Chemical's Bhopal liabilities with Finance Minister Chidambaram.
These cables among many clearly indicated that the Federal government consistently betrayed the interests of the Indians and gas victim of Bhopal in particular and served the interests of Union Carbide Corporation, said another activist Rachna Dhingra.
According to her, as early as in the 1970s, the Federal government compromised on principles related to foreign exchange to help Union Carbide retain majority control over Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL).
This was substantiated from a cable sent by Deputy Chief of Mission David T Schneider from the US Embassy in New Delhi on February 4, 1975 shows that the Federal government allowed Union Carbide, USA to bypass the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) and obtain loans from American Exim Bank instead of an Indian financing agency.