Bhopal tragedy-tainted Dow returns to India

Arijit Sen, CNN-IBN, December 03, 2007
New Delhi: Twenty-three years after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Dow Chemicals is back in India.
The Gujarat government, which has been promoting Gujarat Alkalies, are all set to announce the setting up a unit in Dahej with Dow, right after the elections.
Protests continue till date against Union Carbide, the company allegedly responsible for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy that left over 3,000 people dead in 1984.
But despite the national ill-feeling, Gujarat is welcoming Dow Chemicals with open arms, with the port city of Dahej gearing up to host the new venture between Dow – which owns Union Carbide – and Gujarat Alkalies.
Predictably, neither the Modi Government, now Dow want to attract extra attention.
Sources have informed CNN-IBN that Gujarat Alkalies and Dow Europe would set up a greenfield unit in Dahej in January 2008.
They have chosen Gujarat because of ‘speed of project implementation’
The project’s initial investment will be to the tune of Rs 700 crore. The plant’s outputs will be used products to be used in pharma industries, industrial coolants and dyes.
Gujarat government-promoted Gujarat Alkalies is the market leader in India in chloro-alkali – a key petrochemical product used by sectors as diverse as plastics and pharmaceuticals.
A MoU between GACL and Dow’s European arm has already been signed for a possible joint venture.
An official announcement is due after Gujarat polls in December.
Said stock market analyst K T S Tulsian, “This is a via media to enter into the Indian market through a state undertaking because Gujarat Alkalies is largely held by the Gujarat government – it’s a state PSU.”
But Dow Chemicals has refused to comment saying this is all speculative and it’s too early to say anything.
Gujarat Government sources also have told CNN-IBN that project approvals are not a problem area.
Dow has been trying hard to get into India. Even a Cabinet note from the Commerce Ministry has suggested that Dow Chemicals’ interest in investing in India should be looked into. But petitions across the IITs to ban Dow from campus recruitment and protests in Bhopal are making it even more difficult for Dow to have a clean start in India.
With inputs from George Koshy

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