Looking back at 2004

Feature story - January 2, 2005
As the year 2005 begins, it is time for us to take stock of the year that was, and bring you the highlights of our work and our victories. Although the Tsunami disaster has quite literally dwarfed everything else for now, it is nonetheless important to remember the other environmental challenges that we faced in 2004, some of which led to good news!

The 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster saw an outpouring of support from several cities around the world, including seven in India.

2004 was a good year for Greenpeace India; close to the end of the year, we reached a critical milestone - ten thousand new supporters have joined our family this year, giving us that additional strength to plough ahead in 2005.

We bring you a brief recap of the high points of the year; the 'Recent News' section (or 'Related Stories' linked on the right side of this page) will give you more details on each of these, and allow you to browse through all the headlines of 2004.

The major victories of our campaign against Toxics this year:

The SCMC (Supreme Court Hazardous Wastes Monitoring Committee) slammed Hindustan Lever Ltd. with a 50 crore fine to clean up its illegal dumping of mercury in Kodaikanal and rehabilitate its affected ex-workers.

Greenpeace India's environmental sampling reports and health surveys in Eloor were studied seriously by the SCMC visiting Kerala, which later went on to fine all industries in the belt and institute vital measures to remedy the deadly industrial pollution in the area.

Greenpeace India was central to a key victory at Basel Convention, which finally recognised ships-for-scrap to be toxic waste. This will from now on severely restrict and hopefully stop the dumping of ships for breaking on Indian shores, unless they are detoxified by the ship-owners first.

The other key international achievement this year for Greenpeace is the No Objection Certificate filed by the Government of India in the US courts to demand that UCIL-Dow clean-up Bhopal. Various events organised in several countries across the world by Greenpeace and other member organizations of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, through the year and on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy have put enormous pressure on Dow. "Exposure- the Portrait of A Corporate Crime", Raghu Rai's photographic exhibition on the horrific aftermath of the tragedy, was taken to several metros by Greenpeace, in an effort to keep Bhopal in the consciousness of the nation. The 20th anniversary of the disaster was marked by protests and demonstrations in several cities, including seven cities in India where Greenpeace pitched in to help ensure that the world would Remember Bhopal.

The Greenpeace study "Community Health at Medak" clearly established industrial pollution at Medak District as the cause of high incidence of life threatening diseases. This is proving to be a useful tool for local communities in their fight for their lives and the futures of their children.

Greenpeace India's Sustainable Agriculture scored some big wins this year as well.

Monsanto's patent on "Nap Hal" wheat was revoked in entirety by the European Union's Patent office, primarily due to legal opposition filed by Greenpeace that proved that this was actually a strain of Indian wheat, cultivated and bred for its special properties by generations of Indian farmers.

The "Say No to Genetic Engineering" campaign first pinned down the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee and the Department of Bio- Technology to make public all GE field trial data and then went on to corner Bayer Crop Sciences into admitting that they had abandoned experimenting with GE vegetables. Greenpeace India worked very hard this year to reach out to policy makers, consumers, the media, and exporters to warn them of the irreversible dangers of GE food.

Greenpeace India's nation-wide study "Arrested Development" showed conclusively that children of farming communities in high pesticide use areas like cotton growing belts, were seriously affected by their exposure to these toxic chemicals. Shocking deficits were found in their mental developmental abilities (analytical and motor skills, concentration and memory). Dissemination of this study in five cities and the consequent media coverage and concern expressed by authorities has sent the pesticide industry in a spin and they are now trying to muzzle our activities by threatening to file a slap-suit against us. Public hearings held by Greenpeace in 5 cotton growing districts has built awareness amongst farmers of the lethal effects of chemical pesticides, as well as of viable alternatives.

Greenpeace India's Energy Team has sent Reliance Energy on the defensive by filing a petition with the Regulatory authority of Orissa demanding mandatory supply of 10 percent of electricity in State from renewable energy as notified by the Indian government.

The Rainbow Warriors' ship tour of the East Coast of India kicked off Greenpeace India's Oceans campaign and successfully set the agenda for protection of our coasts.

We at Greenpeace India, are all looking forward to working together next year to meet our aspiration for a clean, green and peaceful planet.