Hold Dow Liable for Bhopal, Mumbai activists demand

 

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 ill.

"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 hence
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
400 009

For more information, contact:
Vinod Shetty,
National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Tel: 9820510146
Shweta Narayanan,
Toxics Link Mumbai. Tel: 9820659202.
Email: tlmumbai@vsnl.com

WEBSITES: www.bhopal.net, www.bombay.indymedia.org, www.greenpeaceusa.org

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