Bhopal gas victims, govt call truce

Business Standard, August 8, 2008
The Centre today reached an agreement with those protesting for medical relief for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims and environmental recovery of the site of the Union Carbide plant from where the gas leak had occurred in 1984.
The organisations representing the victims today announced that they would call off their three-month-old agitation tomorrow. This was after the government agreed to form an autonomous commission to take care of medical, social and environmental grievances of the victims as well as the contamination of ground water by the toxic waste that has been dumped at the site.
Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan will tomorrow announce the government’s willingness to continue to demand the compensation amount from the company. Dow has been refusing to accept responsibility.
However, the end of the agitation, being carried out from New Delhi, will hardly be the end of troubles for Dow Chemicals as most agitating groups will now put their weight behind a Dow Quit India agitation, to be launched from Pune on August 9. Dow’s R&D centre in a village in Chakan, Pune, was recently razed by Warkaris, the devotees of Sant Tukaram.
The sect, which has thousands of followers in Maharashtra, owned up to the offence and has vowed to oust Dow from Pune. The agitation, beginning in Pune, will have 100,000 Warkaris joining on the first day, says Sarangi. Dow Chemicals continues to maintain that it is being targeted for no reason.
“For 16 years, the National Chemical Laboratory has been functioning in Pune and that was what prompted Dow to set up its R&D centre in Pune. It is unfortunate that the villagers are being misled,” said a spokesperson for the company.

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