[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Indian Parliament Member letter to Shell
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
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
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
Mr. Vikram Mehta,
Makers Tower (S)
12th Floor, Cuffe Parade,
Mumbai - 400 005.