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Thread: Dow wants to pass Bhopal buck to India, letters show

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    Dow wants to pass Bhopal buck to India, letters show


    US multinational Dow Chemicals, facing a criminal suit over the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, has been trying to get the Indian embassy in Washington to persuade the government to clean up the site of the erstwhile Union Carbide plant, according to information acquired after invoking the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

    New Delhi, Delhi, India, 2007-04-09 19:45:02

    US multinational Dow Chemicals, facing a criminal suit over the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, has been trying to get the Indian embassy in Washington to persuade the government to clean up the site of the erstwhile Union Carbide plant, according to information acquired after invoking the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

    The matter came to light last month after the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery and Karmachari Sangh, an association of survivors and activists, made use of the RTI act to seek copies of the letter from the Planning Commission.

    The letter dated Nov 8, 2006 from Dow chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris to the Indian Ambassador to US, Ronen Sen, said: 'With support of local Indian CEOs and foundations, there is opportunity now for the Government of India to work closely with the state of Madhya Pradesh and the Indian industry to remediate the Bhopal site.

    'This should take place expeditiously - beginning immediately with GoI officials and industry leaders meeting with the relevant cabinet secretary (sic) who has executive oversight for the remediation efforts,' the letter said.

    At least 20,000 people were killed and several thousands were maimed for life due to the leak of poisonous methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from the Union Carbide plant on Dec 2-3, 1984, termed as the worst industrial disaster in history.

    Dow Chemicals took over the Union Carbide factory in 2001 but has since been evading its responsibility to clean up the area around the closed plant where toxic waste has continued to affect the health of the people living in the neighbourhood.

    The letter further added that 'the GoI and the state government will need to work with the court overseeing site clean-up to assure that this effort will pass legal muster as the site's final remediation plan.'

    The firm said: 'Leaders need to work with all ministries of the central government to ensure that their stated position is reflected in any (sic) and of GoI's statements, legal files, and dealings with the Indian court system.

    '...Specifically, the GoI ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers applied to the court in May 2005 to order Dow to pay a deposit of Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion) or approximately $22 million against environmental remediation costs.

    'The ministry should now withdraw its application for a financial deposit against remediation costs. Certainly a withdrawal of the application would be positive, tangible demonstration that the GoI means,' the letter added.
    Another letter retrieved using the RTI act finds that Tata group chief Ratan Tata had written to Planning Commission deputy chairman M.S. Ahluwalia supporting the cause of Dow.

    'Dear Montek, Andrew Liveris of Dow sent me a copy of a letter that he sent to Ronen Sen, which I enclose for your information. I understand Vipul Shah of Dow India also intends to brief you on this next week,' said Tata's letter dated Nov 28, 2006.

    'This is obviously a key aspect and I wanted your assessment on whether this is possible,' the letter added.

    The Tata group has formally offered to take up the responsibility of cleaning up the site and pave the way for Dow's investments in India.

    Dow wants to pass Bhopal buck to India, letters show - India PRwire


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    Billionaire Offer to Clean Bhopal Derided As Front for Chemical Firm


    There is one more article in this series. This was forwarded to me by my friend who is actively associated with the Bhopal Movement.
    One of India's richest men has been lobbying for the Indian government to drop a court case against an American multinational to pay for the clean up costs of the world's worst chemical accident, according to letters obtained by campaigners.

    The documents, acquired under India's right to information law, show industrialist Ratan Tata writing to ask whether the Indian government could "withdraw [an] application" to make Dow Chemicals pay $22m [£12m] as an initial deposit against "environmental remediation costs".

    Dow owns Union Carbide, whose pesticide plant leaked deadly white gas killing thousands in Bhopal in 1984. The company claims it bears no liability for the site as it has since sold up and left India.

    After an international outcry that the site had not been decontaminated more than 20 years on, the Indian government launched a legal case to recoup money from Dow in May 2005. Campaigners say there is evidence that the disused plant still has 170 tonnes of toxic waste leaching into the soil and poisoning groundwater.

    Studies show that 57 out of 120 children who grew up near the abandoned plant suffered from cerebral palsy. More than 26,000 people still drink "dirty" water.

    Mr Tata, who runs the £30bn Tata group, says his company could break the "dead lock" and fund a clean-up of the site.

    A letter from Dow says it is "critical" the government of India drops its legal action and that the resolution of the issue must be seen as a "tangible, deliverable outcome" of a newly formed US-India business forum which Mr Tata oversees.

    Tata group said its chairman's suggestions were "totally independent of the issues being addressed in the courts. It is imperative some initiative be undertaken to clean the site."

    Campaigners said Dow Chemicals was using an "Indian front company to do its dirty work".

    By Guardian Unlimited © Copyright Guardian Newspapers 2006
    Published: 4/9/2007

    Billionaire Offer to Clean Bhopal Derided As Front for Chemical Firm

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    Thank you maneesh for furnishing an amplified information on the role of Tatas in this sad saga. Now Ratan Tata should explain to the nation at large, the rationale for prevailing upon the GOI to withdraw a $22m suit and also the quidproquo for the Tata group in the process. That is the least he could do to convince the nation that he is on the right track.

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    I guess the thanx is much more deserved by my activist friendh Shalini Sharma, India coordinator for "Students for Bhopal (SFB) ", a global association of people fighting for justice for the victims of Bhopal gas tragedy
    Kudos to her and all the people fighting for the cause.
    Last edited by maneesh; 10-04-07 at 09:36 PM.

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    Maneesh,
    It looks like you have forgotten to mention that she is also a member of our forum here. I wish her and her team all the best in their fight for such a noble cause.

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    You are right, i just checked. Thanx

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    Re: Dow wants to pass Bhopal buck to India, letters show


    BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY: ONE OF THE SPEAKERS AT THE PRESS MEET SAID THAT THE PLIGHT OF THE PEOPLE IN NANDIGRAM IS SIMILAR TO THE VICTIMS OF THE TRAGEDY

    Gas tragedy survivors oppose Dow Chemical’s entry in Bengal


    Kolkata, June 5: A delegation comprising members of different organisations seeking justice for the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy said that it would not allow Dow Chemical to set up base in the proposed chemical hub in West Bengal till the latter accepts its pending liabilities towards the victims of the tragedy.
    Dow Chemical is the parent company of Union Carbide, which owned the chemical factory in Bhopal from where the leak of toxic gases in December 1984 killed over 20,000 and injured several others.

    Speaking during a press meet today, Rashida Bee, a member of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh, said that the plight of the people in Nandigram is similar to that of the victims of the tragedy. “The world has learnt its lesson from the biggest industrial tragedy, only in India we are committing the same mistakes again.”


    When asked about the future course of action, Satinath Sarangi, a member of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, said that it was going to use the Right to Information Act (RTI) as a “weapon” to generate awareness among the people. “We will oppose any effort on the part of the West Bengal government to let Dow Chemical come to the state,” said Sarangi.

    Representatives of the Bhopal Survivors’ Organisations said that they are going to form an all-India council and send a delegation to the West Bengal government.

    Sarangi told the media that in accordance with the “polluter pays” principle, Dow Chemical is legally liable to pay for the clean up of chemical waste and pay compensation to the victims of the tragedy. He informed the media that the Indian government has sought Rs 100 crore from Dow Chemical as advance for cleaning up the hazardous waste from and around the Bhopal factory. However, the company, through its counsel, had told the Madhya Pradesh High Court, which is hearing the case, that it was not bound by its ruling as it is a USA-based company.

    Sarangi said that the US Security and Exchange Commission had penalised Dow Chemical for financial irregularities, including its attempt to bribe Indian officials. He alleged that the motive behind the bribe was to introduce Dursban, an insecticide banned in the US for its harmful effects, in the Indian market. The CBI is also investigating the case.

    Yesterday 21 members of the Bhopal Survivors’ Organisations visited two areas of Nandigram and talked to the locals there.

    Gas tragedy survivors oppose Dow Chemical’s entry in Bengal

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    Re: Dow wants to pass Bhopal buck to India, letters show


    Govt tries to cleanse Dow investment of Bhopal stain

    </ARTTITLE>
    NEW DELHI: In a bid to clear Dow Chemicals, the American giant that took over Union Carbide in 2001, of civil liabilities in the Bhopal gas tragedy — said to be the worst industrial disaster in the world — the Centre is making a concerted effort for an out-of-court settlement with it.

    The victims of the tragedy may find this hard to believe, but documents with TOI show that the PMO, backed by finance and industry ministers and the vice chairman of the Planning Commission are trying to find ways to clear Dow Chemicals of any legal liability, so that the company agrees to invest in India.

    Key issues of the 1984 disaster remain unresolved. While direct victims of the poisonous gas leak have been compensated, toxic waste from the plant in a 7-hectare area is said to have contaminated Bhopal’s ground water.

    While the case is going on at the Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh HC, Union Carbide was bought over by Dow. With that, it would have taken over Carbide’s civil liability. In the Jabalpur court case it is named as one of the respondents and the chemicals and fertiliser ministry has raised a demand of Rs 100 crore from Dow to clean up the contaminated factory site in Bhopal.

    Faced with this, as well as the prospect of higher demands if the court holds it responsible for the ground water contamination, Dow first offered in 2005 to invest in a giant petrochemicals hub, covering 250 sq km, and then showed its reluctance to do so, citing the potential risk to its investment should liability come on it from the Bhopal case.

    This is where, it appears, government machinery got whirring to allay Dow’s fears by seeking to reach an out-of-court settlement and thus pave the way for the investment in the petrochemicals hub. Documents acquired through an RTI application show a series of rapid-fire moves.

    Govt tries to cleanse Dow investment of Bhopal stain-India-The Times of India

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