Navin in the News
Navin's News for December 2011
New Year's Message
My New Year's resolution is to fight a successful election in 2012 and be part of the team that brings down fares for Londoners. Fares have become unaffordable and TfL’s £206 million surplus should be used to ease the financial pressure for the people who need it.
It’s important that we save Londoners money where we can. I want to see a safer, fairer and equal London and continue my work with our richly diverse communities in Brent and Harrow.
I wish you all a happy, prosperous and safe New Year.
Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow
This time of year gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to the new year. London has faced some massive challenges this year and wide-scale riots in August proved how people of Brent and Londoners can overcome adversity.
Next year will showcase London in the best light, with the Olympics and Paralympics bringing visitors here from around the world. In May, the elections for the London Mayor and Assembly take place which will determine London’s future for the next four years.
2012 is set to be a fantastic and exciting year in this great city of London and Brent. I assure my best endeavours to our community in Brent.
Enjoy the festive period, spending time with family and friends and stay safe. I wish all our community members Merry Christmas and very best for a peaceful and happy New Year.
Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow
New Windows on Willesden Green
On 17 and 18 December I attended the wonderful ‘New Windows on Willesden Green’ project, which was delivered for Brent Council and Design for London by The Architecture Foundation in collaboration with Meanwhile Space and Blue Consulting.
This was a brilliant project, attempting to revive and improve Willesden High Road. I felt it was a huge success and was very impressed by the creativity and innovation on show in the windows of the high street shops.
I was very pleased to be asked to announce the winners of the window animations, which were installed along Walm Lane and the High Road marking the 25 days leading up to Christmas. The names of the winners are below.
Local shopowners paired with emerging designers to produce an advent calendar of window displays in Willesden with a new Willesden window opening each day.
Please visit the website and see for yourself the inventiveness which was on display. You can also visit the Pilot Shop until March on the High Street if you are considering taking over one of the vacant shops on there.
Navin Shah, Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow
Overall Winner: Kieren Jones (Pilot Shop & Monsoon Bakery)
Best Humour: I want design (Hairways)
Best Rebranding: Patternity (Tailorwear)
Most Festive: Sarah Bick (Norma's Blessed Hands)
Best Visual Impact: Markus Kayser (Open Eye Opticians)
Best Transformation: We are Laura (Glorious Beginnings)
Mark Brearly - Design for London (Head)
Claire Catterall - Somerset House (Curator)
Justin McGuirk - The Guardian (Critic)
Privatisation of the London Control Centre
By Navin Shah AM
The rushed privatisation of the London Fire Brigade’s Control Centre is appalling. Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Brian Coleman is dismantling the service and functions of the London Fire Brigade, bit by bit at a terrifyingly quick pace.
The Fire Control Centre for London is operated by highly trained and efficient staff, who believe in what they do and have been horrified by this drive towards privatisation for privatisation’s sake. They have great knowledge and expertise and are faultless in their dedication to their extremely difficult job.
The reason they, and I, are deeply unhappy about the privatisation of their place of work is that it is a purely political move. The proposals put forward by the Conservative Chair offer no real economic savings, efficiencies or effectiveness. They are motivated purely by an ideological Tory agenda. Indeed, the control centre is regularly exceeding its performance targets.
And how will these changes affect Londoners? I have concerns whether this is in the public interest and how this might affect public safety. During the London Riots in August this year, staff at the 999 Control Centre dealt with over 4,000 calls and dedicated staff volunteered to continue working. Will that still be the case when staff have been sold off to a private company? The sense of public service felt by these staff members will be shattered if Coleman’s plans are bulldozed through.
London's fire control centre is responsible for organising the response to major disasters. Since it opened in 2003, the mainly female staff members have talked callers through life threatening situations and should be applauded for their cool-headedness and bravery. But they are not.
Instead, they are being demoralised by the changes to their jobs and workplace, which are happening at break-neck speed.
NRG councillor from UK ups ante against Dow
By Priya J. Adhyaru-Majithia
Navin Shah Intensifies Campaign In London And Bhopal To Seek Justice
An Ahmedabad native and the first Indian in the London Assembly — which holds the mayor of England capital to account —has launched a robust campaign against Dow Chemicals, a sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics. Navin Shah, the NRG seeking justice for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims, is a councillor representing the northwest London boroughs of Brent and Harrow. The areas accommodate the highest Indian population in the UK (50,000). But Shah has spoken up for Indians in Bhopal as well.
He led a protest march in the Madhya Pradesh capital this week. He feels it would be embarrassing for Indians if they don’t stand up to a company that is getting space on the Olympics platform despite the disaster. The gas leak killed 25,000 people and about 1,00,000 still suffer its after-effects.
Shah recently urged Lord Sebastian Coe — a former Olympic champion and chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG ) — to withdraw Dow Chemicals’ sponsorship of a decorative wrap around the Olympics stadium.
“London games are governed by a code of environmental, cultural and ethical values,” Shah said. “Dow Chemicals’ record in Bhopal is in total contrast to those important values established by the LOCOG.” Shah said that since he represented the voice of 50,000 Indians and because he is a British-Indian, the matter of sponsorship had a special significance for him. Shah was born and brought up in Sarkhej till he finished his primary schooling.
“I stood outside the compound wall of the Union Carbide factory, stunned with mixed emotions of sadness, shame and anger,” he said. “Sadness, because 25,000 people were killed; shame because the tragedy occurred at the factory owned by Union Carbide which was bought by Dow Chemicals in 2001; and anger because Union Carbide/Dow Chemicals to date are refusing to fully admit their liabilities and have treated victims like dirt.”
Shah said he felt deeply ashamed that LOCOG had decided to award the wrap contract to “the very company at the centre of the ongoing and inhumane conduct leading to the ongoing injustice to the victims of Bhopal.” The International Olympic Committee has reportedly rejected India’s protest and has backed Dow Chemicals’ sponsorship. But Shah is undeterred.
“The protest is getting stronger day by day,” said Shah. A few weeks ago, he joined a campaign in London launched by Barry Gardiner, an MP, for the immediate withdrawal of the Dow Chemicals’ sponsorship. That was followed by the creation of a petition in the Sattavis Gam Centre in Brent. “We are hopeful of getting justice and are grateful for the the Brent Indian Association’s support,” Shah said.
His campaign was an apolitical initiative, Shah said. He has called for more support and has uploaded the petition at his website, www.navinshah.com. The public has been invited to sign the petition. During his visit to Bhopal, Shah launched a local petition. Indian organizations like Sambhavna Trust and Chingari Trust from Bhopal have backed his campaign.
“I was born in Sarkhej. I have an ancestral home in Sarkhej and a residence near Adalaj,” Shah said. “My extended family including siblings and relatives, and large number of friends reside in Ahmedabad — a city where I completed my primary schooling. I reside in London but my heart is in Ahmedabad.” He said major humanitarian issues were close to his heart. “As an Indian, I could not stand by and see the massive injustice meted out to the poor in Bhopal.” TNN
Navin Shah says the decision to award the sponsorship to Dow Chemicals was inconsistent with ethical standards. The victims deserved justice and fairness, he said. “It is also important to protect London’s reputation and the Olympics legacy,” he said. TNN
“SAY NO TO DOW” - Campaign Seeking Justice For Bhopal’s Victims
It was a moving experience to be in Bhopal on 2 December and pay tribute, outside the disused 'Union Carbide' Factory, to the victims of Bhopal disaster in 1984. Standing alongside hundreds of people from Bhopal many of whom had suffered one way or the other from the calamitous events 27 years ago on this very day and still continue to suffer gave me just a tiny ounce of idea of the scale and the impact on the masses of people and the environment.
I stood outside the compound wall of the factory stunned with mixed emotions of sadness, shame and anger. Sadness for the fact that up to 25,000 people were killed from the disaster and approximately 100,000 still suffer from ailments as a result of the disaster. Shame that the tragedy occurred at the factory owned then by Union Carbide which was bought by Dow chemicals in 2001 and anger because Union Carbide/Dow Chemicals to date are refusing to fully admit their liabilities and have treated victims like dirt. Furthermore ashamed also that the ‘London Olympics Organising Committee for Olympic and Paralympics Games’ (LOCOG) chaired by Lord Coe has decided to award a ‘Wrap’ sponsorship contract for the Olympic Stadium to Dow Chemicals - the very company at the centre of ongoing and inhumane conduct leading to ongoing injustice to the victims of Bhopal.
A few weeks ago I joined a campaign in London launched by Barry Gardiner MP, for the immediate withdrawal of the Dow Chemical’s sponsorship by LOCOG followed by launching a petition in the Sattavis Gam Centre in Brent opposing Dow Chemical’s sponsorship. I’m grateful to the Brent Indian Association for leading the support as local organisation and other organisations for their presence at the launch of the petition. The campaign is a cross-party (non-political) initiative with a joint letter to Lord Coe signed by individuals and organisations.
During my private visit to Bhopal on the 27th anniversary of the disaster, I launched a local petition together with a joint letter (for Bhopal/Indian organizations) thus extending the campaign to the very heart of the cause and adding the voice of the very victims and people of Bhopal, India. The visit proved to be an eye opener and gave me the first hand account of the tragedy as well as impressive work being done by the local organisations like Sambhavna Trust and Chingari Trust.
Sambhavna Trust, with donations/contributions from Greenpeace (Nederland) etc. was opened in 2005 and Chingari Trust has operated since 2006. My visit to these two centres demonstrated the great medical and educational support and awareness they provide on a day to day basis to the victims and families.
The highlight of my visit was also participating in the annual procession (demonstration against Dow Chemicals) attended by hundreds of victims/sufferers including second / third generation children with deformities and individuals and organizations. The procession lasted over two hours, passing through the busy areas of Bhopal’s town centre and ended outside the former disused Union Carbide factory reminding people of the tragedy and the continuing injustice dished out by Dow Chemicals. The town during the procession was echoing with the shouts and slogans like: ‘27 years are enough’; ‘Enough is enough’; ‘We’ll fight – We’ll win’ and ‘Give voice to victims’.
LOCOG’s decision to award sponsorship to Dow Chemicals is inconsistent with their code of sustainability and ethical standards. The victims deserve justice and fairness, it is also important to protect London’s reputation and Olympic legacy. For this I urge Lord Coe to withdraw Dow Chemical’s sponsorship.
'Bhopal tragedy was like a dance of death'
By Ted Jeory
ON ITS website, Britain’s Olympic stadium sponsor Dow Chemical states the “role of chemistry is to do more good in the world”.
It says: “We are committed through chemistry to the betterment of global humanity”, that “we place a high value on listening to our communities and strive not just to be a good neighbour, but a global corporate citizen”.
These boasts may have persuaded 2012 boss Lord Coe and his friends on the International Olympic Committee to invite the US giant into their big Games Family, but the people of Bhopal beg to differ: literally.
Within a few hundred yards of the derelict Union Carbide pesticide plant that spewed deadly gas over the Indian city’s slums on December 3, 1984, is a clinic run by two angels of mercy dedicated to nursing hundreds of children who are still born maimed to this day.
Rashida Bee, 55, and Champa Devi Shukla, 59, who themselves suffered, grieved and survived the disaster, are founders of Chingari Trust, which scours slums to warn pregnant women the well-water they are drinking is most likely contaminated due to a failure to clear the plant.
Dow, owner of Union Carbide since 2001, and Lord Coe like to talk about “sustainability” when it comes to the Olympic Games but the word has an ironic feel to many in Bhopal. The clinic costs about £31,000 a year to run, while Dow, which has failed to clear the contamination from the Bhopal plant or contribute a penny to medical efforts in the city, is funding a £7million “sustainable” fabric wrap around the 2012 stadium in return for exclusive marketing rights.
As Rashida Bee and Champa Devi point out, £7million would allow them to treat hundreds more children and sustain their efforts for 60 years.
They founded the clinic in 2006 by donating the entire £90,000 they were given two years earlier as winners of the prestigious Goldman Environment Award, which is regarded as the Nobel prize for environmental efforts.
Bhopal, with its crumbling roads and choking pollution, is no place to be disabled and judges recognised the pair’s 15 years of selfless work with those gas victims, particularly women, whose rights they now champion. The pair had noticed that children in the areas closest to the pesticide plant were born with appalling disabilities, including twisted limbs and mental problems.
With the money from the award, they were able to expand their work and the spotless clinic is now a shining example of community action. From Monday to Friday, they bus in the children, all of whose parents are gas victims, and give them speech and physical therapy, while on Saturdays they venture among the slums and educate inhabitants who are culturally afraid to show their disabled children in public.
Last year, ironically, a number of youngsters such as smiling nine-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer Aman Quereshi, participated in India’s Special Olympics for disabled children.
What inspires Rashida Bee and Champa Devi is their own history and a desire to right what they see as corporate and political injustice that killed up to 25,000 people and injured about 500,000 more. Rashida lost her father, sister and four close relatives as a result of the leak, while Champa Devi saw her late husband suffer for years with cancer caused by the tragedy. Her son suffered so badly with the pains in his lungs, it drove him to suicide.
“He couldn’t live with it any longer,” she said. “The leak destroyed my family. Gas had rushed into our house. We couldn’t breathe. We ran out, it was like a dance of death, people were actually wanting to die the pain was so bad.
“White foam was coming out of my daughters’ mouths. We headed for the hospital but the doctors had no clue how to cope. Some victims who fainted were thrown on to a pile of corpses.” Rashida added: “I was woken by people shouting, ‘Run for your lives, you’ll die.’ We ran, but later my eyes shut tight, I couldn’t open them, but when I did all I could see were corpses.”
They both now say that Dow, although it has never owned the plant, “is our enemy” because they “should show some morality, clean the waste and take it back to America”. Rashida said: “They knew about this waste and the suffering it causes when they bought Union Carbide. They’ve spent billions of dollars on their business, but they’ve not contributed anything to Bhopal. It is left to the women here to fight.”
On Friday, as a campaign escalated in the UK, groups in Bhopal burned effigies of Dow’s stadium wrap and of Lord Coe, who many want to visit the city. The anger was intense but campaigners, including the British based Bhopal Medical Appeal, which funds Chingari Trust, are also glad of the renewed global attention brought by Lord Coe’s decision to give Dow a clean bill of health. The campaign was losing momentum – waiting for a bigger anniversary than the 27th on Friday.
It is also a city divided by what campaigners see as a deliberate betrayal of victims by politicians and multinational company bosses. After the 1984 leak, state officials declared only parts of the city “gas-affected” so when Union Carbide agreed to set up a fund of £250million in 1989, claimants were restricted to those areas.
Wealthier areas suffered less, largely because it was their residents, the ruling class, who gave Union Carbide the go-ahead to build its plant close to the city centre and its slums. Judges were said to have treated desperate victims like criminals, handing out meagre compensation awards.
The US Union Carbide bosses were allowed to escape India without facing questions or trial.
The Indian government owned half of the Union Carbide subsidiary and Dow’s lawyers say it is up to them to clean the site. Ashutosh Shukla, a Bhopal journalist, said: “The history of Union Carbide shows a democratic country like India can be bought by multinational companies who can get away with a crime of this magnitude.”
Dow now wants to build water treatment plants in India, but not in Bhopal. London Assembly member Navin Shah, who visited the city on Friday, said: “I hope Coe and Dow do the right thing. If the Olympics legacy is to mean anything, they have to be serious about morality.” Dow insists it has no liability towards Bhopal and is dedicated to creating a safer chemical industry.
The International Olympic Committee said: “Dow never owned or operated the facility in Bhopal, and the state government of Madhya Pradesh owns and controls the former plant site.”
UK Assembly member opposes 2012 Olympics Dow sponsorship
By Zafar Alam Khan
More trouble is brewing up for the Dow Chemicals sponsored London Olympics 2012 as the boycott call by the gas victims’ relatives, survivors and the organisations working for their welfare got a shot in their arm through support from an unexpected ally, a member of the Greater London Assembly Navin Shah.
Shah who is in India for a family function and would be visiting the State capital on Friday while talking to The Pioneer from Ahmedabad over the issue said, “It is ethically wrong to get sponsorship from a company which is responsible for homicide of hundreds of Indian fellows and is not responding to Indian apex court orders.” Shah who represents Brent and Harrow constituency in North West London further said, “I represent a constituency of London that has a sizeable population of Indians. Londoners have principles that are based on ethics and moral code and if we are serious about London and its reputation than we should oppose the wrong and unethical sponsors of the games that are going to be held in our city.”
He said, “These Olympics were meant to be about a fitter Britain, but they’ve got a series of sponsors associated with ill-health and death. You’ve got Coca Cola, you’ve got MacDonalds hamburgers which are the key culprits for childhood obesity, and now you’ve got Dow that was once responsible for killing hundreds of people. It’s just a grotesque contradiction in terms to talk about the Olympics, but to have so many sponsors who have negative connotations when it actually comes to good health.”
Shah said that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has “got it wrong” and Dow sponsorship is unethical and immoral. The LOCOG has awarded the contract to build the decorative wrapping on the Olympic Stadium to Dow.
The London Olympics 2012 boycott call over the sponsorship by Dow Chemicals given by the organisations working for survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal has started gaining momentum. Former Olympians from the country were the first to extend their support for the cause that was followed by politicians including the Chief Minister and the latest to join the bandwagon is none other than the member of the Greater London Assembly, Navin Shah.
SIGN THE PETITION
Ex-Olympians to lead rally for gas survivors
BHOPAL: A member of Indian origin in the Greater London Authority, Navin Shah, and several former Olympians are expected to lead a rally on Thursday here, endorsing support for the Bhopal gas victims and voicing their opposition to allowing Dow Chemicals to be a sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics 2012 .
The rally was jointly announced today by gas survivor's organisations who demanded that the Indian government oppose Dow's sponsorship of the Olympics games and make it pay up an adequate compensation the deaths and lingering hurts caused by the disaster of 1984.
The organisers said Olympians Ashok Dhyanchand, Jalaluddin Rizvi, Sameer Daad and others have confirmed their participation Navin Shah said he was joined by the Labour Party's Friends of India and a cross-party coalition of MPs at the Olympic site to urge the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to review its decision to have Dow as a sponsor.
The LOCOG had awarded the contract to build the decorative wrapping on the Olympic Stadium to Dow.
The rally beginning in the afternoon, will start from the Bharat Talkies crossing and wind its way through Union Carbide's abandoned factory. At the end of it, a public meeting will be held in front of the factory, and the Chairman of the London Olympics organising committee, Lord Sebastian Coe, will be burnt in effigy.
SIGN THE PETITION
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