For most of his adult life, Muhammad Rauf, 38, has worked at a hide-tanning factory in the Pakistani border town of Kasur. He applies large quantities of water and chemicals to raw animal skins as part of the laborious process that turns them into finished leather. But at the same time, he is increasingly worried about the acute pollution problems caused by tannery waste, which has badly polluted ground water, impacted on the health of local residents and has also affected crops grown in the area. The tanning industry is a major foreign exchange earner for Pakistan, with jackets, sports goods, handbags, footwear and other items manufactured from leather originating in the country and sold across the world.

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Bhopali activists continue to demand government action against polluted groundwater. Five Bhopali hunger strikers  (Rashida Bee, Rachna Dhingra, Jabbar Khan, Guddi Bee, and Shehzadi Bee) were forcibly arrested by two truckloads of policemen at 7am today in Bhopal, India. In Washington DC Non-resident Indians, students and other concerned groups of the Indian diaspora held loud protests outside the Indian Embassy in Washington DC on Thursday, March 15th.

On December 2, 1984, thousands of people in Bhopal, India, were gassed to death after a catastrophic chemical leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant. Advocates say Carbide’s owner Dow Chemical is to blame for daily deaths in Bhopal.

(click here to read more from the South Asian)

The Indo-U.S. nuclear deal may be considered groundbreaking and historic by many in India and the United States, but this euphoria must not shroud the misery of thousands of people suffering the effects of uranium mining in India due to poor technical and management practices in existing mines. While major newspapers and television stations in India celebrated a major political victory by India as it covered the announcement of the Indo-U.S. deal, contrast this with an incident which happened Dec. 24. Thousands of liters of radioactive waste spilled in a creek because of a pipe burst at a Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) facility at Jadugoda, India. It neither made newspaper headlines nor did UCIL come to know of the disastrous leak till alerted by the local villagers. Such are the realities of nuclear facilities in India.

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In California, the world’s sixth-largest economy, there are an estimated 12 million people who are uninsured, “a third of them clearly poor,” noted Dr. Anmol Mahal as he outlined plans of the India Community Center (ICC) at Milpitas, Calif., to open a free medical clinic some time this year. Scores of mostly South Asian immigrants throng to the free health clinics periodically sponsored by such organizations as the ICC as well as to those sponsored by Hindu and Sikh temples, and mosques.

Even though these clinics never ask their clients about their legal status, not every immigrant knows this. Often, fear of being reported “keeps them from going to community clinics.” With federal officials increasingly cracking down on undocumented workers, immigrant rights activists expect those fears to increase. Last November, under a new federal policy, the automatic entitlement to health insurance through Medicaid was taken away from children born in the United States to illegal immigrants.

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‘Privatisation’ Violates Right to Health – Activists

Hiring a private firm to manage the drinking water system in Nepal’s capital violates the right to health guarantee in the country’s interim constitution, activists are set to argue before the Supreme Court. Four groups are opposing a plan to break up the Nepal Water Supply Corporation (NWSC) in the Kathmandu Valley and disperse its work and assets among three new agencies, one of which will hire the British firm Severn Trent to manage water delivery in the Valley’s five municipalities for six years.

(click here to read more from OneWorld)

Hundreds Protest Novartis Challenge to Patent Law
Associated Press

NEW DELHI — Hundreds of Indian activists protested in New Delhi on Monday against a challenge to the country’s patent law by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, saying the move could leave millions without access to affordable medicine.

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Quarter of a Million People Urge Novartis To Drop Case Against India

Company Would Effectively be Shutting Down the “Pharmacy of the Developing World”

New Delhi/Geneva, 29 January 2007 – As pharmaceutical company Novartis proceeded with its legal challenge against the Indian government in a court hearing in Chennai, India, today, nearly a quarter of a million people from over 150 countries expressed their concern about the negative impact the company’s actions could have on access to medicines in developing countries. The Indian Network for People with HIV/AIDS (INP+), the People’s Health Movement, the Centre for Trade and Development (Centad), together with the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), called on the company again today to immediately cease its legal action in India.

(click here to read more from Doctors Without Borders)