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Indian Parliament Member letter to Shell

  Hi friends,
  I have just returned from India where the campaign against Shell's
  atrocities in Nigeria is growing and where Shell has recently announced
  major expansion plans.
  One Member of Parliament, George Fernandes, recently wrote a letter to the
  Indian Prime Minister, Minister of Environment and Minister of Petroleum
  calling on them to refuse Shell perrmits for any activity in India based on
  how the company has operated in Nigeria. In addition, he sent the following
  letter to the head of Shell in India, which I thought you would like to
  see. Let me know if you want emails or copies of any of the other letters. 
  "Bharat" means India and Bharat Shell is the name of Shell's operation in
  that country.
  Do any of you know of Parliment Members in other countries who could be
  persauded to write similar letters?
  The struggle contuinues....
  George Fernandes                            3, Krishna Menon Marg
                                              New Delhi - 110 011
                                              December 3, 1997
   Dear Mr. Mehta,
       I am writing to inform you of our active opposition to
  Shell's plans to conduct oil exploration and other activities in
       I have read the Royal Dutch/Shell Group Commitment to
  Health, Safety and the Environment, adopted by the Board of
  Directors of Bharat Shell Ltd. in June 1997, which states that
  the Shell Group is committed to "protect the environment" and
  "publically report on our performance." However, your activities
  in India and elsewhere continue to violate these policies.
       Shell's record of complete disregard for the environment and
  human health in less industrialized countries is well documented.
  The most glaring example is the ethnic minority Ogoni area  in
  Nigeria, where the company has been operating for over 30 years.
  According to the World Council of Churches, Shell has spilled 56
  million gallons of oil onto once-productive farmlands and into
  community water supplies in the Niger Delta region. Between 1976
  and 1980, Shell operations caused 784 oil spills in Nigeria. From
  1982 to 1992, 27 additional spills were reported.  Due to
  mounting public concern over Shell activities in Ogoniland, the
  company was forced to cease operations there in 1993; Shell
  admits 24 more oil spills occurred in Ogoniland since then. Shell
  admits to 3,000 polluted oil sites in the Ogoni area alone. 
       Shell also admits to flaring 1.1 billion cubic feet of
  natural gas each day for 35 years, causing acid rain in the Niger
  Delta during 10 percent of the days each year. In addition to
  acid rain, the flares produce a rain containing fine particles, a
  cancer-causing soot which permeates peoples' lungs, homes and the
       The World Council of Churches conducted an independent study
  of Shell's activities in the Ogoni area and extensively
  documented the environmental abuses in a 1996 report "Ogoni: The
  Struggle Continues." In this report, WCC observers describe a
  site where Shell had spilled oil in 1969:
       "Even though this spill occurred 26 years ago, its
       devastating impact is still very apparent. The soil and
       oil are caked together into a thick black crust which
       covers the area. Liquid crude oil is present is deep
       crevices (2 to 3 feet deep), formed in spots where
       trees once stood....The air remains polluted by the
       vapour from the spilled crude oil; this becomes
       particularly noticeable when the south-west wind blows.
       The oil spill seems to have polluted the creek nearby.
       The oil flowed into the body of water and we were told
       that it can still be seen floating on the surface of
       the creek water that people still drink. We were unable
       to move near the creek as the earth was dangerously
       soggy with a combination of soil, oil and water....It
       is amazing that so much devastation exists after 26
       Shell is the world's top corporation in terms of
  profitability. It is clearly within Shell's  means to repair the
  environmental devastation it has wreaked in Ogoniland, but the
  company chooses instead to ignore both the mounting evidence and
  the resulting international public outrage against it.
       In spite of the mounting evidence of Shell's environmental
  crimes in Nigeria, Shell denies any responsibility.  Fortunately,
  not all Shell employees will tow the company line. In December
  1994,  Mr.J.P. Van Dessel, the Head of Environmental Studies for 
  Shell Nigeria, resigned because he felt his personal and professional
  integrity was at stake. Last year he reported on British
  television that "It was clear to me that Shell was devastating
  the area."
       As you know, Shell is guilty of far more than environmental
  crimes in Nigeria. In response to the deteriorating environment
  in their homeland, Ogoni environmentalists formed the Movement
  for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) to campaign for
  environmental clean up. Shell has been implicated in the Nigerian
  military violence against the Ogoni people and MOSOP's
  leadership. Although Shell at first denied any relationship with
  or support to the ruthless Nigerian miliary, both military and
  Shell documents confirm that Shell both requested and helped fund
  military operations in Ogoniland.
       Before MOSOP founder, Ken Saro-Wiwa, was executed on trumped
  up murder charges in November 1995, he wrote from his jail cell:
  "Shell has exploited, reduced and driven the Ogoni people to
  extinction in the last three decades, The company has taken over
  $30 billion out of Ogoni and has left a completely devastated
  environment and a trail of human misery." Twenty of Saro-Wiwa's
  colleagues remain imprisoned without trial.
       We demand that Shell facilitate the release of the Ogoni 20
  who remain imprisoned without trial in Nigeria; Shell remediates
  all environmental damage in Ogoniland; and Shell apologizes for
  its role in the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his MOSOP
       Based on Shell's record elsewhere, we can only conclude that
  Shell's entry into the Indian oil sector can not be in the best
  interests of our people or our environment. Shell has repeatedly
  demonstrated that profits are much more important than the
  environment and populations of third world countries. Such
  environmental and human rights violations are unacceptable,
  whether  perpetuated in Nigeria or India. We will not do business
  with corporations which profit from the devastation of the
  environment, the resources and the communities of third world
  countries anywhere. Just as the Ogoni declared Shell "persona non
  grata" in Ogoniland, we declare Shell also "persona non grata" in
                                                      Yours sincerely
                                                      George Fernandes
  Mr. Vikram Mehta,
  Managing Director,
  Bharat Shell,
  Makers Tower (S)
  12th Floor, Cuffe Parade,
  Mumbai - 400 005.
  Ann Leonard