A Rs400 crore research and development centre planned by Dow Chemical Co. seems to be headed for fresh trouble with a number of NGOs now joining the villagers in their protests against the centre
Sudha Menon, livemint.com, February 2, 2008
Pune: A Rs400 crore research and development (R&D) centre planned by the largest US chemical maker by sales, Dow Chemical Co., at Chakan (near Pune in Maharashtra) seems to be headed for fresh trouble with a number of non-governmental organizations (NGO) now joining the villagers in their protests against the centre.
The villagers have been blocking access to the land allotted to the company, stopping construction of the R&D centre since 16 January. They are seeking a written assurance that the operations at the centre will not, in any way, harm them, their cattle or their land.
NGOs such as Lokayat and Lokshashan Andolan have now joined the protests and so have a former judge of the Mumbai high court, B.G. Kolse Patil, and a retired inspector general of police. Interestingly, a public rally planned in the village on Saturday is due to be addressed by two members of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Victims Struggle Committee.
Activists involved in relief and rehabilitation work for the 3 December 1984 Bhopal gas leak victims have been demanding the company, which took over the liabilities of Union Carbide in the US, should also take over the liabilities of Union Carbide India Ltd in Bhopal. Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide in 2001.
“We have nothing to do with Union Carbide India Ltd. That company was sold off by the government. It is unfortunate that a project that could put India and Chakan on the chemical technologies map of India should run into this kind of problem,” said Ramesh Ramachandran, president and CEO of Dow India. “We are in dialogue with the government and the villagers on this issue and are hopeful that they understand that we are not manufacturing chemicals here and that this is a research and development centre.”