Bahut Ho Gaya! Greenpeace and pollution-impacted communities call for action on World Water Day.

Feature story - March 22, 2005
NEW DELHI, India — On the occasion of World Water Day, Greenpeace activists, along with representatives of pollution-impacted communities from different states of India, staged a massive public rally in New Delhi to protest the absence of any action against the toxic contamination of water resources across the country. The participants of the rally called upon the government to ensure provision of clean drinking water, as ordered by the Supreme Court, and announced their intentions to do all it took this year to get the apathetic authorities to act.

Poisons and Toxics : Bahut Ho Gaya!

"Our rivers, lakes, groundwater are irreversibly poisoned because of the Government's inability to control and monitor the rapacious chemical industry that continues to release deadly chemical waste and effluents into our water, air and land. Entire eco-systems and the species dependent on them are under threat. So much so that traces of these toxic chemicals have shown up in breast milk and human blood too," said Vinuta Gopal, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India, "Greenpeace, independent scientists and civil society groups have presented enough instances of toxic chemical pollution and its impacts on human health and our environment. Bahut Ho gaya, we now want action!"

"Despite 20 years of struggling for justice for Bhopal survivors and in spite of the Supreme Court ordering provision of piped clean drinking water to impacted communities, there has been no change in our situation, because of the lack of political will, and corruption in the highest offices of the state and central government. Clearly this cannot go on," said Rashida Bee, Bhopal activist and Goldman Award winner, speaking at the rally.

The Bhopal survivors were accompanied by people from other communities campaigning against similar challenges: The Kodaikanal community, impacted by the mercury poisoning of their pristine hill forests, a sensitive water-shed area, polluted due to the malpractices at Hindustan Lever's thermometer factory; The community of Eloor living by the river Periyar in God's own country, marred by the environmental havoc caused by the unregulated industries of the Eloor Industrial estate; People from Patancheru, where lakes have borne the brunt of chemical poisoning from the Medak Industrial Estate; and fisher-folk of Orissa, who are literally stuck between hell and high water, trapped between Oswal Chemicals and the poisoned sea-inlets.

The Supreme Court of India has repeatedly ordered closure of factories across the country for violating pollution control norms, but unfortunately nothing has changed - the government is both apathetic to the peoples' demands and seemingly unable to implement the directives of the highest court of the country. Greenpeace and community activists are demanding that the Government take immediate action and:

· Provide piped clean drinking water to the communities whose water resources have been polluted.

· Shut down Polluting Factories violating Supreme Court's directives on Hazardous Waste management (Order and Judgement dated 14 October 2003 in writ petition 687 of 1995)

· Rehabilitate Pollution impacted Workers, Communities and remediate their Environment and ensure that the guilty corporations take full responsibility and bear liability for the costs of the same.

· Revamp the Pollution Control Boards both at the Centre and the State level to ensure transparency, rigor and honesty.

For further information:

Vinuta Gopal, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India: +919845535418

Namrata Chowdhary, Media Officer, Greenpeace India: +919810850092