Domain-b.com, July 26, 2008
Mumbai: The agitation against a research center being set up by Dow Chemical, which now own Union Carbide in India, took a violent turn on Friday with a mob about 100 people setting fire to a shed at its construction site at Shinde Vasuli village, about 40 km from Pune.
The agitators also damaged construction machinery and other materials, including glass panels and air-conditioners.
Security personnel at the centre have registered a criminal complaint against the rampaging agitators under sections 395, 427, 435, 436, 317 of IPC, said assistant police commissioner Shrikrushna Kokate, adding, that the police have detained ten people.
Dow in India is synonymous with the Union Carbide which caused the catastrophic industrial accident in Bhopal in 1984, when tonnes of toxic gas leaked from a pesticide plant owned by the then Union Carbide.
Over 3,800 people died of exposure to the gas and tens of thousands more were made sick. Union Carbide later became a subsidiary of Dow but the controversy over who should clean up the polluted site continues.
Dow is setting up a research and development centre with an initial investment of Rs400 crore ($90 million) near Shinde village. The company claims the new research centre, planned to open this year, will house 500 scientists by 2010, looking into energy conservation, water purification and pharmaceuticals.
Dow officials claim the attack was directed from outside and not from within the village, but there is wider opposition to the plant in the area.
Some of the villagers, who were against the centre, had blocked the road leading to the site while Dow officials visited the centre in the wake of the high court order to the state government to ensure resumption of work at the construction site.
The construction work had resumed after a committee set up by the state government gave the green signal. Critics, however, argue the research centre will create health problems for villagers.