Bhopal: Five activist groups Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make Union Carbide and Dow Chemical bow to Indian courts over the Bhopal gas disaster.
"We hope you and your government will be as enthusiastic in making the US corporations obey Indian laws as you are (in) welcoming them to invest in our country," the groups said in an open letter to Modi.
"We write (in) the hope that you and your government are aware that Bhopal was the original 'Make in India' in the profoundest sense of the phrase."
The appeal comes on the 30th anniversary of the Dec 2-3, 1984 disaster when a poison gas leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal left thousands dead. Dow Chemical now owns Carbide.
The joint letter has been written by leaders of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action, and Children Against Dow Carbide.
The letter blamed Union Carbide and Dow Chemical for the gas disaster and the environmental contamination due to reckless dumping of hazardous waste.
"In the last 30 years, the government of India has been dragging its feet over taking effective action against the two US corporations (fearing) that (seeking) justice in Bhopal would jeopardize the investment climate.
"Union Carbide and now Dow Chemical have taken full advantage of this hesitation on the part of the Indian government and both continue to break Indian laws and dare Indian courts," the letter said.
The letter said Union Carbide had evaded Indian courts for 22 long years and "Dow Chemical has refused to appear in the Bhopal district court disregarding the court’s summons to appear on Nov 12, 2014".
"We write this with the hope that your government will make Union Carbide and Dow Chemical obey the directions of Indian courts."
The activists also urged Modi to pay special attention to the issue of medical care and economic and social rehabilitation of the survivors, many of who suffer from a range of ailments.
"In the last three decades, while provision of funds by successive governments at the centre has been adequate, in the absence of any monitoring, the expenditures have failed to produce any results," the letter said.
The activist groups accused the "intransigence of the Madhya Pradesh chief minister who remains oblivious to the failure of his government in providing even a semblance of a life of dignity to the survivors".