Lalit Shastri speaks on Bhopal disaster; Asks the global fraternity to ensure sustainability and safety of every human life

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Photo (L to R) Renzo Tondo, ex-MP and Member Defence Commission, Chiara Fazio of Noi Con l’Italia, Lalit Shastri, journalist, author and conservationist, Stefania Craxi, Senator and President Foreign Affairs Commission, and Martina Semenzato, Member of Parliament and Ecology Commission.

Rome: Renowned Indian journalist, author and conservationist, Lalit Shastri has pointed to the reckless manner in which the American multinational Union Carbide compromised all safety norms for the sake of profit and set up an outdated and obsolete pesticide plant in Bhopal by exploiting the opportunity provided by India’s Green Revolution and on the midnight of December 2 & 3, 1984, when their entire safety system collapsed, tonnes of deadly poisonous Methyl isocyanate (MIC) leaked into the air and Bhopal went through the worst of Industrial catastrophe. In this disaster more than 20,000 citizens have died while no less than 500,000 others have suffered injuries, including irreversible lung damage and blindness.

Shastri was addressing dignitaries, MPs and media-persons on the theme “Bhopal Disaster and lessons”, to mark 38 years of the Bhopal gas disaster, at the Chamber of Deputies Press Room in Rome on  Wednesday 23 November 2022.

Shastri drew attention to discussions ten days ago, at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, when COP27 focused on the theme – “Adaptation and Agriculture”. The series of sessions deliberated upon the question “how the world will feed eight billion people?

The speakers at COP27, Shastri pointed out, threw light on ways forward on adaptation and climate resilient agriculture. Attention was also drawn towards consecutive droughts and the fact that millions of people in Greater Horn of Africa are facing starvation. Pakistan was cited as a hotspot where agricultural regions have suffered due to unprecedented floods and people across Europe and the US are experiencing soaring temperatures. Also in focus was Russia’s war in Ukraine and the resultant global food shortages and price hikes in wheat, oilseeds and fertilisers. The net result of all this is that the fossil fuel-based food industry is facing the heat. What is even worse is that no one seems to have any qualms about compromising in terms of sustainability for the purpose of mass production and profits.

In this backdrop, Shastri said, with the advantage of hindsight, after what we have gone through in Bhopal, a word of caution is necessary. The question of Food security cannot be divested of Environment, biodiversity and climate responses while ensuring sustainability and guaranteeing the protection of every human life from man-made disasters. 

Speaking on the occasion, Stefania Craxi, Senator and President Foreign Affairs Commission of Italy, especially expressed concern about the toxic waste still lying in the open in the now abandoned Union Carbide factory premises in Bhopal. The toxic waste lying open and the wate pits continue to pollute the air and ground water. This is a potential hazard and the task of waste disposal should be taken up on priority and the treatment of victims, who continue to suffer, should receive top attention, Ms Craxi asserted.

Martina Semenzato, Member of Parliament and Ecology Commission of Italy, who also addressed the gathering expressed serious concern and said that sustainability and safety of the people should be the top priority as the world faces all the challenges that lie ahead.

At the outset, Renzo Tondo, ex-MP and Member Defence Commission and former President Fruili Venezia Giulia Region, introduced the subject and drew attention to the world’s worst Industrial disaster and how much the citizens of Bhopal have suffered as a consequence.

Prominent among others present on the occasion were Maurizio Lupi, MP, ex-Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, and currently President Noi Con l’Italia; and Alessandro Colucci, MP.

Earlier during the day, Lalit Shastri met Sergio Costa, Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies and former Minister of the Environment in his office at the Chamber of Deputies. Both shared their concerns on the continuing disaster even 38-years after the poisonous gas leak in Bhopal.


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