Dow Chemicals plant in Mumbai, India, the Earth Summit and the voice of the people.
Activists remind Dow that it is responsible for the ongoing disaster in Bhopal.
Despite failing to clean up Bhopal after buying Union Carbide,
Dow Chemicals continues with the business of selling chemicals and
avoiding a history it would rather see forgotten. Since purchasing
Union Carbide in 2001 Dow refuses to acknowledge responsibility for
the world's worst industrial disaster in Bhopal nearly 18 years
Even today, more than 30 people continue to die every month from
diseases related to the toxic gas leak in Bhopal and over 150,000
were chronically ill. It is an ongoing disaster and manifestations
of new diseases such as cancer and birth defects in new borns among
the exposed population tells us that the tragedy may well continue
for the next 30 years.
In recent weeks Dow has been discovering that Bhopal cannot be
easily swept under the carpet. Despite suspected pressure from the
US and Dow, a Bhopal court recently threw out a claim by the Indian
Government to get the charges of culpable homicide against Warren
Anderson reduced to mere negligence. Anderson was the CEO of Union
Carbide at the time of the disaster. Then it was revealed that
after years evading justice hiding in the US, Anderson was
discovered living in luxury on Long Island. Annual membership of
his local tennis club alone is three times what a few of the
survivors of the disaster have received in compensation for a life
time of suffering.
Local activists are not going to let Dow forget Bhopal.
Activists marched on the Indian headquarters of Dow in Mumbai. They
held banners outside the HQ demanding Dow take real action to help
Bhopal. While these concerned citizens are taking to the streets in
India, activists from around the world are being excluded from the
Earth Summit in South Africa. On the other hand corporate interest
are given the red carpet treatment and easy access to governments
and the negotiations.
Governments are discussing making corporations more accountable
for their actions across the globe. A strong commitment to
corporate accountability with tough penalties for offenders would
help ensure there is never another Bhopal. However this is highly
unlikely because corporations such as Dow are busy lobbying in the
corridors of power to ensure that they just have to voluntarily say
they will try and be responsible towards people and the
Of course that means when another avoidable disaster does happen
corporations can just say "sorry - we'll try and ensure it does not
happen again" and avoid any penalties. Not for the first time big
business and money wins against the will of the people, kept at
arms length by razor wire and police in Johannesburg.