September 15, 2009 3:17:22 am
Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh has invited protests from the victims and activists of the Bhopal gas tragedy as also from the Bharatiya Janshakti,Shiv Sena and Hindu Manch for sound-bytes lasting for less than half-a-minute. Ramesh’s remarks that “the truth about (gas tragedy) is uncomfortable” and “I have the waste in my hand,I am still alive,” after visiting the site of the industrial disaster,have led to protests.
“The minister’s attempt to play down hazards by the chemical waste show how low politicians would swoop to win favours from their corporate master,” said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action,before the police roughed up her and her colleagues at Roshanpura Square where they had assembled to burn his effigy Monday. “By stating that he handled the toxic waste without experiencing its effects shows his ignorance about slow-acting poisons and belittles the troubles faced by more than 25,000 people,” said Rashida Bi,a victim and winner of International Goldman Environment Prize.
The BJS,Shiv Sena and the Hindu Manch are angry with the minister for comparing Mohammed Ali Jinnah with Shiva. He has denigrated the Hindu gods,they said while burning his effigies. The minister had said Gandhi,Nehru,and Jinnah represented Brahma,Vishnu and Mahesh in the Congress in the pre-Independence era. The Congress qualified the Jinnha remark by Ramesh as “personal”.
But unlike the activists and fringe political parties,the minister made the BJP government very happy during the few hours he spent here. By recommending Green Bonus to the state for maintaining its vast forest cover,by announcing to establish in Bhopal the headquarters of the proposed National Green Tribunal,and by agreeing to wait for the state’s report on Panna,he recommended several things to make the rival party happy.
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“The state government is very happy with the minister’s visit because he was positive throughout the visit,” a top bureaucrat said.
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