Tata PR department, January 18, 2006
“There seems to be considerable misalignment and misunderstanding,” whines Tata’s PR machine.
No, Mr Tata, on the contrary, we understand perfectly what your game is, and the only misalignment we can find is your misjudged and foolish alliance with Dow Chemical.
Clearly you want to get into joint ventures with Dow that will make you even richer than you already are. But Dow is a pariah company, whose Indian assets may one day be seized if it does not learn to behave itself better. So you step in with this disingenuous offer to start a clean up fund to which “like-minded corporates” can contribute. You say your initiative is “totally independent” of issues before the Court, but you know that this is garbage. Either you have a feeble knowledge of law, unlikely since you employ cohorts of highly paid lawyers, or you are trying to exploit the public’s lack of legal knowledge.
Let us enlighten you (watching journalists please take note):
A Government-sponsored clean up could, theoretically, recover costs from the polluter – Union Carbide Corporation/Dow Chemical, but a charitable clean-up cannot be turned into liability for another. A charitable remediation fund is a donation, which is impossible to recover from a third-party. In short, Dow/Union Carbide would be off the hook.
You have also missed the fundamental point that the contamination from Union Carbide’s factory has already badly damaged hundreds of children, for whom any clean up is too late. They will need help for the rest of their lives. But your proposal makes no reference whatsoever to the provision of medical care, rehabilitation and compensation, which are inextricably linked to the issue of polluter liability. If your proposal were to go ahead, it would free you and your American chums to go off happily and make billions while their Bhopali victims continue to suffer without help.
Mr Tata, you are descended from a long line of trader-brigands who aided the British in their opium dealing and have always worshipped eagerly at the shrine of Mammon. Your company today is implicated in deep human misery, contamination and violence in a dozen sites all over India. Go and clean up your own filthy messes. And next time you interpret the rumblings of your overfed gut as a hunger to help humanity, try an Alka Seltzer.