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Dow's 'lobbyists' on Bhopal GOM

By Sheela Bhatt
June 10, 2010 01:43 IST
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A 55-page document gathered using the Right To Information Act from the Prime Minister's Office shows how the members of United Progressive Alliance government including some senior ministers have taken a soft stance towards Dow chemicals.

Toxicwatch Alliance claims that "there was 
collusion between ministers, government officials and Dow Chemicals to protect it from the liabilities of Bhopal catastrophe.The documents reveal how some of the ministers who have been made part of Group of Ministers by the prime minister have been acting to safeguard the interest of the corporation in question, which is liable for Bhopal disaster."
 
Gopal Krishna of Toxicwatch said that, ' The GoM that has been constituted does not inspire confidence." The documents gathered using the RTI legislation reveal how some cabinet ministers have already expressed their support for Dow Chemical Company's proposal to save it from Union Carbide Corporation's liability which it inherited in 2001 after a merger between the  two companies.
 
The real issue arising out of Bhopal verdict that has necessitated the setting up of a GoM is its fallout on the proposed Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill that is pending in Parliament. It has emerged that any future liability regime must include criminal liability and must not cap the amount of civil liability because the damage from a nuclear or chemical disaster depends on the direction and nature of the wind at the time of the accident, says the group, which has studied the fall-out of the Bhopal gas leak.
 
The Toxicwatch Allaince also says, ' The Bhopal verdict reveals that no lessons have been learnt from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and Three Mile Island nuclear accident. It is sad that even the Parliamentary standing committee on Environment, Forests, Science and Technology is frozen in its passivity be it with regard to Bhopal or nuclear liability. The committee is  chaired by T Subbirami Reddy, who is on record in Parliament as having opposed any liability arising out of asbestos exposures. Incidentally, the Dow Chemicals Company has set aside $ 2.2 billion to address future asbestos-related liabilities arising out of the Union Carbide acquisition.

"How is that Dow Chemicals can take on the asbestos liability of Union Carbide and not the liability for the industrial catastrophe in Bhopal?" is what the group seeks to know.
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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
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