Gas tragedy survivors seek action against US firm

THE PENINSULA, QATAR, FEBRUARY 17, 2007
Bhopal • Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy have called on the central government to file a police complaint against a US-based chemical company and its Indian subsidiary for allegedly paying bribes to Indian officials to get its pesticides registered.
Dow Chemical Company, which was fined by US financial regulator Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier this week for paying $200,000 (Rs8.8m) in bribes to several central government officials. Dow’s Indian subsidiary is Dow Agrosciences India.
The US-based firm now owns the Union Carbide Corp (UCC), where disaster occurred on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 after over 40 tonnes of lethal Methyl Iso-Cyanate (MIC) spewed out of its pesticide plant here, killing more than 3,000 people instantly and maiming thousands of people for life. More than 15,000 people affected with the exposure of toxic gas have died since then.
Addressing a joint press conference yesterday, the leaders of various organisations, including Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh (BGPMSKS), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha (BGPMPSM), Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) and Bhopal Ki Aawaaz (BKA), have also demanded separate enquiries by India’s law enforcement authorities and the Economic Offences Wing into the matter.
“According to SEC records, one senior official in the Central Insecticides Board received $39,700 (Rs1.6 m) for registering Dow’s pesticides in India between 1996 and 2001 while other state officials received the remaining amount for facilitating distribution and sale of Dow’s pesticides,” Satinath Sarangi of BGIA said.

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