2 September, 2002,
MUMBAI -- The Government of India should include American multinational
Dow Chemical in the ongoing criminal case on the world's worst industrial
disaster in Bhopal in December 1984, demanded the National Campaign for
Justice in Bhopal (Mumbai), NGOs and a collective of students associated
with the Mumbai Indymedia Centre. In a novel protest, activists held banners
saying "The road to disaster ends here" and "Dow-Carbide
liable for Bhopal" along the roads leading to the country
headquarter of Dow Chemical at Corporate Park, Chembur. The protest comes
even as multinational corporations are engaged in hijacking the Rio+10
World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg by arm-twisting
the United Nations to avoid framing any legally binding accountability
mechanism to check corporate crime.
Even today, more than 30 people continue to die every month from
exposure-induced diseases in Bhopal and over 150,000 were chronically
"It is an ongoing national disaster and manifestations of new diseases
such as cancer and birth defects in newborns among the exposed population
tells us that the tragedy may well continue for the next 30 years,"
said Shweta Narayan from Mumbai-based toxics clearinghouse Toxics Link.
The activists are confident that the criminal fines that can be levied
from the company will provide for long-term medical and economic rehabilitation
of the victims.
On 28 August, the Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court in Bhopal rejected
the application made by the Government of India to reduce criminal charges
against former Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson and has upheld the
originally framed charges of culpable homicide and other serious offences
against him. Additionally, the court has also directed the Central Bureau
of Investigation (CBI) to expedite the extradition of Anderson to face
trial in India.
While both Anderson and the representative of Union Carbide have been
absconding from the criminal case for the last several years, the situation
has taken a new turn following the merger of Carbide with Dow Chemical
in February 2001. Also, the whereabouts of Anderson until now unknown
are now fixed. Last week, Greenpeace released a video showing Anderson
leading a life of luxury in an upmarket neighborhood in Hampton, New York.
"The Indian government must now direct the CBI to prosecute Dow Chemical
that has inherited the criminal liabilities of Union Carbide through its
merger with the corporation." said advocate Vinod Shetty, Mumbai
convenor of the National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. Citing legal
precedents regarding inheritance of criminal liability following acquisitions
and merger of companies in India, Mr. Shetty claimed that there was a
clear case of impleading Dow in the case. 'The CBI was helpless in prosecuting
Union Carbide because it had sold off its confisicated assets in India
but Dow has four subsidiaries and substantial assets in this country and
there will be no problem in enforcing criminal judgements against Dow."
Mr. Shetty said.
On behalf of the National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal,
c/o Toxics Link Mumbai
4th Floor, CVOD Jain School, 84 Samuel Street, Pala Gali, Dongri, Mumbai
For more information, contact:
National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Toxics Link Mumbai. Tel: 9820659202.