CHENNAI, 10 February, 2009 — More than 70 survivors and second-generation victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster staged a die-in protest at the entrance to Dow Chemical-Union Carbide’s office in Olympia Tech Park at Guindy Estate today. Twenty five women lay on the ground with shrouds covering their bodies – symbolizing the 25 years of struggle for justice by Carbide’s victims. Ten children – second-generation victims of Carbide’s poisons – sat amidst the “dead” Bhopalis, holding placards demanding Dow’s ouster from Chennai. “This is our first major action against Dow’s facilities in India. We will target Dow across India every month intensifying our actions until justice is done,” said 14-year old Sarita Malviya, who alongwith other child victims launched an organisation called Children Against Dow Carbide last December. More than 10,000 tons of toxic wastes lie strewn around in the open in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, contaminating the groundwater consumed by more than 25,000 people. Dow and Carbide have said they will not clean up the wastes. Union Carbide was declared an “absconder” by the Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate for refusing to honour summons in a criminal case, where it is accused of “culpable homicide” for perpetrating the disaster that has claimed more than 25,000 lives till date.
Dow Chemical, which is accused of sheltering the fugitive Union Carbide Corporation from criminal proceedings in the Bhopal court, recently opened an office in Chennai, even as other states have been forced to reject Dow’s investments owing to popular protests. Construction of a chemical experimentation facility at a site near Pune was suspended two weeks ago by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra after local residents and irate Maharashtrians all over the state took to the streets outraged by their Government’s welcome to the company responsible for the ongoing tragedy in Bhopal.
“What happened in Maharashtra will happen in Chennai as the Tamilnadu Government’s friendly gesture to Dow-Carbide is bound to snowball into a major public controversy,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, a Chennai resident and long-time supporter of the Bhopal campaign. “The Government should not allow Dow to do business in Tamilnadu until Dow does justice in Bhopal,” he said.
In February 2007, Dow Chemical was fined $325,000 by the US Government’s Securities Exchange Commission for having paid more than Rs. 80 lakhs in bribes to Indian agriculture ministry officials to expedite registration of three pesticides, including the neurotoxin Durbsan. The fraudulently registered chemical, which was banned in the US due to its harmeful effects on children’s brain development, is freely available in India and is a popular insecticide used for pest control in homes and offices.
The Bhopalis are demanding that Dow Chemical should produce Union Carbide in court to face criminal trial, clean up the toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater in Bhopal, and compensate people for health damages caused by the contaminated groundwater.
For more information, contact:
Nityanand Jayaraman. 9444082401.
Jeny Dolly: 9840398852.