Hiroshima Day: THE TRAIL OF THE TOXIC- From Hiroshima to Bhopal

Lokayat organizes an evening of films, songs, drama and discussion:

THE TRAIL OF THE TOXIC: From Hiroshima to Bhopal

Date: Saturday, August 8, 2009

Time: 6 to 9 pm

Venue: Lokayat Hall, Opp. Syndicate Bank, Law College Road, Near Nal Stop, Pune.

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. Three days later, on August 9, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The horrendous atomic radiation released by the bombs killed 2,30,000 by the end of 1945. Tens of thousands of those who survived died slowly and painfully from radiation poisoning in later years.

On April 26, 1986, an even bigger ‘Hiroshima’ occurred at Chernobyl, Ukraine. An accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant released an amount of radioactivity 400 times that of the Hiroshima explosion into the atmosphere. It heavily contaminated an area nearly the size of Maharashtra around Chernobyl, and will remain so for thousands of years. Since then, tens of thousands have died from radiation induced diseases. The seven million who survived know that they could develop cancer anytime, that their children and grand children and great grand children could be born with severe birth defects. It was an accident waiting to happen; because nuclear power plants are inherently accident prone.

On December 2, 1984, the ‘Hiroshima’ of the chemical industry occurred in Bhopal. Toxic gases leaked from US corporation Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in the city. The gas leak was waiting to happen. In its lust for profits, the company had adopted hazardous operating procedures, and had cut down on vital plant safety measures and plant maintenance. Over 8000 died within 72 hours of the leak, another 12,000 have died in the 25 years since then.

Despite these many Hiroshimas, the world has not drawn any lessons, and conditions are being created for many more Hiroshimas, many more Bhopals…

On the Occasion of Hiroshima Day on August 6, in this year of 2009 which is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Lokayat organizes a cultural festival of films, songs, drama interspersed with an interaction with the iconic leader of the Bhopal gas tragedy survivors:

Program

Film screenings:

1. Lost Generation (20 mins)

Director: Yuten Tachibana (Japan) (Dubbed in Hindi)

A rare documentary based on the first footage of the impact of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the people. This footage was seized by the Americans after the end of World War II, and stored in the US National Archives. The Japan Peace Movement mobilized Japanese citizens to contribute funds and buy back small segments of this footage, in a movement known as the “10 foot movement”. The narration is by Jane Fonda.

2. Hunting Warren Anderson (30 mins)

Director: Amos Cohen

An Australian Broadcast Company documentary investigates the reasons for the Bhopal gas tragedy, and the struggle of the survivors for justice. One of their demands is that the government of India take steps to extradite the fugitive chairman of the Union Carbide, Warren Anderson, to India to face trial in the case going on against him in a Bhopal court.

Play:

Bluff Masters

Mime on Hiroshima and Bhopal

By Chennai based theatre group – ‘Theatre for Rights’

Interaction with: Satinath Sarangi

World renowned activist, who has spent the past 25 years leading the Bhopal gas survivors in their fight for justice, and recently awarded an honorary doctorate by Queen Maryland University of Scotland for his tireless efforts.

Entry is free. All are invited to this cultural festival.

For more information click on link below

NO MORE HIROSHIMAS, NO MORE BHOPALS

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. Three days later, on August 9, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The horrendous atomic radiation released by the bombs killed 2,30,000 by the end of 1945. Tens of thousands of those who survived died slowly and painfully from radiation poisoning in later years.

On April 26, 1986, an even bigger ‘Hiroshima’ occurred at Chernobyl, Ukraine. An accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant released an amount of radioactivity 400 times that of the Hiroshima explosion into the atmosphere. It heavily contaminated an area nearly the size of Maharashtra around Chernobyl, and will remain so for thousands of years. Since then, tens of thousands have died from radiation induced diseases. The seven million who survived know that they could develop cancer anytime, that their children and grand children and great grand children could be born with severe birth defects. It was an accident waiting to happen; because nuclear power plants are inherently accident prone. And even if an accident does not happen, nuclear power plants routinely release enormous amounts of radiation into the atmosphere; an even more monstrous problem is that of nuclear waste which will remain radioactive for tens of thousands of years – there is no known way of safely disposing it. And so people living near nuclear power plants and waste disposal facilities will inevitably suffer cancer and genetic diseases for many generations to come.

On December 2, 1984, the ‘Hiroshima’ of the chemical industry occurred in Bhopal. Toxic gases leaked from US corporation Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in the city. The gas leak was waiting to happen. In its lust for profits, the company had adopted hazardous operating procedures, and had cut down on vital plant safety measures and plant maintenance. Over 8000 died within 72 hours of the leak, another 12,000 have died in the 25 years since then. Over one lakh continue to suffer from debilitating gas-related illnesses. As if this was not enough, Carbide, after the tragedy, dumped 5000 tons of toxic waste at the plant site and disappeared. These deadly chemicals continue to contaminate the groundwater and soil; Dow Chemicals, which has taken over Union Carbide, refuses to clean it up. And so children continue to be born with crippling birth defects.

A 1000 more Bhopals

Despite these horrendous consequences, India’s rulers are creating conditions for the occurrence of a 1000 more Bhopals all over the country. Ever since 1991 when the government began the globalization of the Indian economy, successive Indian governments have been nakedly pandering to the interests of foreign and Indian big business houses. In the name of ‘development’, giant corporations are being allowed to cut down entire forests, destroy coastal lands in the name of aquaculture, over-exploit groundwater, pollute our seas-rivers-soil-groundwater-air, indulge in indiscriminate mining, uproot entire villages, destroy livelihoods of people, damage the health of not just the living but also of those yet to be born. To give a few examples:

• Most countries, including the European Union and USA, have banned the use of all forms of asbestos, which causes asbestosis and lung cancer. However, under pressure from the Rs.2000 crore asbestos cement industy, the government of India refuses to ban it, and it continues to be used widely in India.
• Big business houses are constructing and operating factories and mines in blatant violation of environmental laws. Chemplast’s PVC factory in Mettur, Tamilnadu, dumps its dioxin-laden toxic effluents into the Kaveri River, polluting drinking water of several villages. Thousands living near SIPCOT chemical industrial estate in Cuddalore, Tamilnadu, are virtually living in a gas chamber. Pollution by Oswal Chemicals (Paradip, Orissa) is devastating lives of over 1 lakh people living around the plant.
• The Eloor industrial estate near Cochin, Kerala, the Sukinda Valley in Orissa, and the chemical industry belt between Vapi and Ahmedabad in Gujarat are amongst the most polluted toxic hotspots in the world.

A 1000 more Hiroshimas

Even more disastrously, under US pressure, the Indian government has now decided to embrace nuclear energy in a big way. A 10,000 MW nuclear power plant, the largest in the world, is coming up near Jaitapur, in Ratnagiri District. Similar plants are being planned in Gujarat and Andhra. These are expected to provide US-Japanese corporations Westinghouse and General Electric with billions of dollars worth of business. These corporations have been without significant orders for the past many years as no nuclear plants have been built in the US since the mid-1970s. India’s big business houses, including the Tatas and Reliance, have also begun preparations for setting up nuclear power plants in the country.

India’s nuclear power plants are amongst the most rickety in the world! While the government of India maintains complete silence on accidents at its nuclear power plants, according to experts at least 300 accidents, including at least four of serious nature, have so far taken place, causing radiation leaks and physical damages to workers and nearby residents!! It is only sheer fortune that another Chernobyl has not happened in India.

People fight back, we must join this struggle!!

People have not been taking this assault on their lives lying down; they have been waging militant struggles. The people in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa are waging heroic struggles against attempts by giant corporations to seize their lands for environmentally destructive projects. In Plachimada, Kerala, and Ballia, UP, people have forced Coca Cola bottling plants to shut down for over-exploiting groundwater. The warkaris of Western Maharashtra have prevented Dow Chemicals from setting up a toxic research and development project near Chakan, district Pune. People in Koodankulam and Jaitapur are campaigning against nuclear power. Amongst the most courageous, and the longest, of these struggles is the struggle of the Bhopal survivors for justice.

All these struggles are a part of a wider struggle against the very path of development being taken by India’s rulers, which gives priority only to foreign investment and giant projects while destroying our air-water-rivers-forests-health-livelihoods. It’s a struggle for people’s collective control over the land, water, air and mineral resources of the country, it’s thus a struggle for genuine democracy.

Friends in Pune,
We must support these struggles.


Contact Phones :
Alka Joshi 94223 19129
Rushal Thaker 99757 08690
Email: neerajj61@gmail.com

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