Dow imbroglio: Activists stage walk-out at committee meeting

Express news service, February 15, 2008
Pune, February 14 Addressing the first meeting of the committee set up by the state government to look into the Dow Chemical imbroglio, environment secretary S K Goel on Thursday has asked the company officers to put an advertisement in all newspapers explaining their stand on what exactly will come up at the 100 acre land in Shinde village and clearly mention the possibility of any kind of health hazard that might affect the villagers.
Amidst protests by villagers and activists under the banner ‘Remove Dow, Save Pune’ movement, the meeting took off at the National Chemical Laboratory, which saw the participation of Shinde villagers and the company officers. The eight-member committee headed by Goel will meet again on February 25 for the second meeting. Today’s meeting saw many villagers staging walk-out.
After listening to the clarification given by company officials on the production of chemicals in India banned elsewhere in the world, Goel said that Dow should put up an advertisement in all newspapers taking ownership of what they exactly planned to do at the Research and Development Centre.
District Collector Prabhakar Deshmukh, one of the committee members, said that in the second meeting the company will be asked to put forth all the technical details. “We have asked them to be specific and give us all the details,’’ said Deshmukh after the meeting.
However, the protesting activists are not in a mood to listen to any of it. “We do not trust the committee and the company. We have enough reasons to protest. There were reports about the company having admitted to making payments to the Centre and State officials to “expedite” registration. This also includes an influential member of the registration committee of the Central Insecticide Board,’’said Neeraj Jain one of the members.
The activists were also peeved with the NCL authorities for granting permission to start the R&D unit without going through the project report. “How do we trust them,’’ asked Jain. The members were also of the opinion that the committee only had government officers and not one member from the protesting party was involved. However the Collector was of the opinion that the second meeting would be open to more discussions and people’s participation. “We want all the doubts to be cleared and everything will be put down on paper,’’ he said.

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