Press Release – Bhopalis Urge Anna University to Dump Dow

Press Release – International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

Bhopalis Urge Anna University to Dump Dow

12 January, 2010. CHENNAI — Second-generation victims of Union Carbide from Bhopal – 17-year old Sarita Malviya and 14-year old Yasmin Khan – today joined Bhopal gas victim Nafisa Khan in urging the College of Engineering, Guindy, to end its association with Dow Chemical. Dow, the owner of Union Carbide, is a key sponsor for CEG’s Kurukshetra Techfest that is to run between January 20 and January 23. Already, more than 500 students from IIT, SRM Engineering College and Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering have signed petitions urging CEG to return the money, warning the organisers that “Dow Chemical will benefit greatly by associating itself with your institute, even while your Techfest’s reputation will take a beating.” Many students have even written indicating that “It would be difficult for us or our friends to associate with the festival or attend it with Dow as a sponsor.”

Meanwhile, at least 30 CEG alumni, and several IIT faculty, have written to Kurukshetra’s student organisers urging them to dissociate with Dow. The Dean of the College of Engineering, Guindy, declined to meet the Bhopal survivors stating that as an academic institution, CEG has many associations with industry, and “we cannot be concerned with what happens outside in society.” The student organisers of the “core team” of Kurukshetra were approached with a request for an open debate on the matter of getting Dow sponsorship. The “core team” refused to respond to repeated requests even after a personal briefing.

Since it took over Union Carbide and refused to address Carbide’s pending liabilities in Bhopal, Dow Chemical has been shunned by public institutions around the country. Dow is also guilty of sheltering Union Carbide from a criminal case, where the chief accused Union Carbide was declared a fugitive from justice by the Bhopal court in 1992.

IITs across the country have stopped Dow from recruiting on campus under pressure from students, alumni and faculty who have indicated that the tainted company should not gain legitimacy by associating with educational institutions of repute. In November 2009, The Hindu announced that “We’ve cancelled the Dow Chemicals sponsorship for The Hindu’s November Fest, obtained by our Events Team without realising the implications.” A public statement by The Hindu is at: http://beta.thehindu.com/arts/music/article42675.ece

In 2005, Indian Oil cancelled a contract with Dow after it discovered that Dow had falsely claimed Union Carbide’s technology as its own to win the contract. Because Union Carbide is an absconder from the Bhopal court, where it is wanted for culpable homicide and other crimes, its products and services cannot be sold in India.

In 2007, Dow Chemical was fined $325,000 by USA’s Securities Exchange Commission for having bribed Indian agriculture ministry officials to expedite the registration of a toxic pesticide. The pesticide had been banned for use in the US because of its harmful effects on children’s brain development.

“Dow Chemical has lied, cheated and bribed in India. As a 17-year old woman, I represent thousands of youth that are suffering because of Dow’s refusal to own up to its responsibilities. We are here to request other youth from CEG to dissociate with Dow as a mark of showing their protest against Dow’s crimes. We are in Chennai to request that CEG students don’t sell our struggle for a few lakh rupees in sponsorship,” said Sarita Malviya of Children Against Dow Carbide. Sarita and her two younger brothers are suffering from a range of health effects including skin problems due to their exposure to contaminated drinking water. Yasmin Khan and Sarita have walked two times from Bhopal to Delhi, and chained themselves to the Prime Minister’s house seeking justice for Bhopal.

For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman: +91 9444082401

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