Peace with Nature: Bhopal to Gulf of Mexico
Nature provides the need of humanity. But the humanity overuses and abuses the nature. It is subjected to degradation, erosion, pollution and host of other forms of exploitation at the heads (thoughts and ideas) and hands of human beings. This is a serious conflict between nature and human beings. We, human beings need to make peace with nature. Social Peace in closely linked to natural-peace. Going beyond this, we realise how different cultures look at peace with nature. We see this difference in the case of India and the North America. Two Case Studies are presented, one from Bhopal, India and the other from Gulf of Mexico, United States, to understand the issues surrounding peaceful co-existence of nature and human beings. Both are industrial disasters. Both highlight the arrogance and greediness of human beings over their use of technology to exploit and control nature. Both spotlight the fact that when the laws of nature are tampered with, the effects are unmanageable. The response of the Governments in both cases, though, has been markedly different. On the one hand, the Government of India has criminally displaced its people, and allowed the company to get away with murder. On the other, the US Government has acted swiftly to demand massive humanitarian compensation and assurance for remediating the environment.
This presentation will examine the double standards adopted by Nation States, Civil Society, Judiciary and Industries in managing nature and tries to understand the need to swift, decisive public spirited initiative for the larger public good. The double standards in protecting nature entangled in the idea of ‘our’ environment and ‘their’ environment is analysed. This is because of the fact that human beings cannot postpone anymore with regard to taking steps to protect and nature the environment, since it is the basis of determines the peaceful co-existence between people and people as well as nature.
A Brief Note:
Bhopal Gas tragedy: As we are nearing the twenty-sixth year, we cannot forget the tragic night of 3rd December 1984 the day the world’s worst ever industrial disaster took place at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. The leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins from the plant have mercilessly affected more than 500 000 people, officially it accounts for 15,000 deaths. More than 390 tons of toxic chemicals abandoned at the UCIL plan continue to leak and pollute the groundwater in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents. Yet no one’s held accountable till date.
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The Deepwater Horizon explosion on the 20th April 2010 killed 11 people and led to an oil spill that contaminated a vast area of the United States marine environment. The spill has damaged the Gulf of Mexico and it is described as the worst oil spill in US history. As soon as this was reported crews started working to protect hundreds of miles of beaches, wetlands and estuaries along the northern Gulf coast. United States has made British Petroleum legally liable for the damage.
Resource Person: Mr. Nityanand Jayaraman is a Chennai-based writer and researcher who specialises in investigating and reporting on the environmental and human rights track record of corporations. He holds a bachelor degree in electronics engineering and Master’s Degree in journalism from United States. He has been associated with the campaign for justice in Bhopal since the time he visited Bhopal to do a story on water contamination in 1996. He has also worked with Greenpeace India and Corpwatch India.