Bhopal victims write to PM on Dow sponsoring London Olympics

August 11th, 2011 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Bhopal, Aug 11 (IANS) After announcing a “parallel” Olympics for those disabled in industrial mishaps of Union Carbide, five organisations of Bhopal gas survivors have now written to the prime minister and the Indian Olympics Association (IOA) to protest London Olympics sponsorship by Dow Chemical, which took over Union Carbide.

“News of Dow Chemical Company being a major sponsor for the 2012 Olympic Games in London must by now have reached you,” the letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reads.

“As it is the government of India’s official position that the American multinational Dow Chemical is responsible for the environmental crimes of Union Carbide in Bhopal, we survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster, and people exposed to ground water contaminated by Dow Chemical have, since the news hit the headlines, been waiting each day for you to register a strong objection with the UK government and London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOPG), demanding the removal of Dow Chemical as a sponsor,” it adds.

In the letter to IOA acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the organisations praised his concern on the issue, and mentioned liabilities Dow Chemical holds in connection with Bhopal gas tragedy.

More than 25,000 people were killed and over 5,00,000 have been affected from the leak of poisonous gas from Union Carbide factory on the intervening night of Dec 4-5, 1984.

Following the mass protest, the cases were registered against Union Carbide and its officials. Later, the matter reached the Supreme Court, which in 1992 ordered that the properties of Union Carbide be attached.

In 2001, Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide.

Rachna Dingra of Bhopal Group for Action and Information said: “We feel that Dow Chemical Company is following a racist policy of double standards…Till date the company refuses to accept its legal liability, claiming instead that Union Carbide is a separate and independent company and therefore beyond its control.”

“Dow Chemical’s refusal is contrary to its stance in the US where, following the 2001 merger, outstanding liabilities of Union Carbide are directly addressed by Dow representatives and, once paid, are registered as charges upon Dow’s consolidated earnings,” she added.

She added that Dow Chemical’s sponsorship could harm the image of the London Olympics.

The five organisations also announced that they will prepare a petition, which will be signed by Olympians, and ask London Olympics chief Sebastian Coe to reject Dow’s sponsorship.

They also said that a campaign will also be launched in England asking people to register their protest.

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