To: Prime Minister of India
Cc: Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
The Honourable Prime Minister of India
South Block, Raisina Hill,
CC: Kumari Uma Bharati
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Honourable Prime Minister,
We would like to bring to your notice that 20 years after the Bhopal gas disaster, the Indian Government still has pending responsibilities toward the rehabilitation of the environment and lives of the victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster.
The toxic wastes that lie within the abandoned factory and in the solar evaporation ponds represent an ongoing source of pollution threatening the health of people living in 10 municipal wards near the factory. Remediation of the contaminated sites and groundwater is an urgent need.
On March 17, 2004, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, USA, presented the Indian Government with a unique opportunity in the matter of remediating the environmental and groundwater contamination at Bhopal.
In reinstating the case of Sajida Bano et al v. Union Carbide Corporation and Warren Anderson to the Southern District Court of New York, the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals has said: "... we believe that the district court should be free to revisit its dismissal of the claim for plant site remediation in the event that the Indian government or the State of Madhya Pradesh seeks to intervene in this action or otherwise urges the Court to order such relief." According to the U.S. Court of Appeals: "...the record contains no communication from Madhya Pradesh or the Indian government indicating its receptivity to an order of a United States court compelling work on the property."
It is estimated that a proper remediation of the site and its surroundings would cost hundreds of crores of rupees, especially if best practices were to be adopted. In the matter of Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy v. Union of India & Ors, the Supreme Court has reiterated that "The legal position regarding applicability of the precautionary principle and polluter pays principle which are part of the concept of sustainable development is now well settled."
By making Union Carbide pay for the site remediation, the Indian Government is in a position to make Bhopal a demonstration of the best practices in remediation of contaminated sites, and build capacity within the Indian regulatory and scientific systems to deal with such problems elsewhere.
This matter is of considerable urgency given that the deadline for receipt of such a letter by the US Court of the Southern District of New York is June 30. The Government of India can either submit a letter or send a short amicus brief to the Court. In March 2004, the Honourable President of India was apprised of the US court order, and a copy of the same was presented to him.
We urge you to take urgent action in this matter, and hope that your office will respond by sending a communication to the US Court at the earliest.
We also urge the Government of Madhya Pradesh to immediately implement the directive of the Honourable Supreme Court of India issued on the 7th of May 2004, based on the Supreme Court Hazardous Waste Monitoring Committee’s recommendations, to provide pipelined water as “expeditiously as possible” in the areas affected by water contamination and to ensure immediate supply of drinking water to these areas through tankers.
Looking forward to your cooperation.
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