Who runs your group and what are your aims?
The Remember Bhopal Trust was formed in 2012 and its members include survivors affected by the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster and the industrial toxic water contamination caused by Union Carbide, and the activists fighting for justice over three decades.
The Trust will organize commemorative activities and its first project is to build the Remember Bhopal Museum in the city. The museum is a survivor-led effort at collecting, archiving and exhibiting memories, artifacts and oral histories of the experience of the communities affected by the aftermath of what has come to be known as the world’s worst industrial disaster.
The trustees, coordinator, curatorial advisor, designer and fabricator of the trustare unpaid members, and have sustained most of the groundwork and content development required for the museum.
Why is this museum important?
The Madhya Pradesh government proposes to build a memorial at the site of the contaminated Union Carbide factory. But survivors say that the government has not held any formal consultations with them about the memorial plan. In fact, survivors question the moral right of the government to build a memorial at the site, especially because they regard the government as being complicit in the injustice meted out to them over the years.
The central goal of the Remember Bhopal Museum is to resist any attempt by anybody — government or industry — to rob the survivors of their active voice in museum or memorial projects. The museum provides a key template not only for the proposed state memorial but also to other ongoing environmental struggles.
How is your group funded?
The activities of the museum and the trust are consistent with the values of the survivors’ struggle here in Bhopal and that is why it is essential that the museum does not accept any government or corporate funds.
The museum has accepted small, individual donations, and has also received funding from environmental and activist groups in India and abroad.
What will the museum look like? How is it different?
The Remember Bhopal Museum is perhaps the first museum in independent India that is collectively curated by a community of survivors and activists and tells the story of a contemporary people’s movement.
The museum will display artefacts, oral histories, photographs, protest songs and campaign posters that have emerged in the movement for justice.
Survivors have given to the museum personal objects that are often their last tangible link to those who died because of the gas leak. Many others have recounted their harrowing tales of survival and struggle. The museum’s narrative is shaped by their stories and objects.
What are the desired goals of the museum?
Survivors want the Bhopal museum to be a tool in their continuing struggle for a life with dignity and justice, and not be an institution that freezes and immobilizes their story in history. To that end, the museum’s narrative will be kept fluid and will evolve with time.
The museum will send a signal to the governmentabout the kind of museum the survivors want, and prevent any official appropriation of the narrative.
It will inspire other people’s movements and museum experts in India to curate the stories of contemporary social/environmental/land struggles.
And the museum will also alert the larger museum community in India about the need to acknowledge the contemporary social struggles as “museum-worthy”, and include these stories in their rarified galleries.
Is the museum an extravagant project?
The museum is built with donations from individuals and groups supporting the Bhopal cause. This money does NOT come from any corpus meant for relief and rehabilitation of the survivors.
Survivors continue to believe in the “Polluter Pays” principle enshrined in Indian and international legal system. They will continue to demand that Dow Chemicals be made accountable for all the civil and criminal liabilities of Union Carbide in Bhopal.
It is essential to preserve the collective memory of the Bhopal survivors. Because, the cost of not remembering is huge.