BHOPAL: Taking up fight on behalf of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday demanded that India should boycott the London Olympics if Dow Chemicals' remains its sponsor.
"Bharat is now an economic superpower and not a feeble nation. Either Dow should be removed from the sponsorship of Olympics or India should not participate in the mega event," he told reporters on Sunday here.
"How can India remain silent on such a serious issue, he quipped. The centre should talk loudly and clearly to them," Chouhan suggested, pointing to the event organisers.
For last couple of days, Chouhan has taken a strong stand against Dow, which bought over Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) from the toxic gas leaked on the intervening night of December two and three in 1984 killing thousands and maiming lakhs of others, who continue to suffer from its aftereffects.
Dow's London Olympics sponsorship has become a major row with different organisations opposing it across the world.
Dow issue gets murkier
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on 27 January renewed its demand that London 2012 terminates its sponsorship deal with Dow Chemicals, feeling vindicated by the resignation of a Games watchdog panel member over the tie-up.
Meredith Alexander quit the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 on Wednesday, saying she did not want to be part of a body that "became an apologist" for Dow Chemicals, the U.S. firm linked to India's 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
Dow bought the Bhopal plant owner Union Carbide in 1999.
Alexander said a number of other panel members were also "deeply disturbed" by the company's sponsorship of a temporary decorative wrap around London's Olympic Stadium.
Her resignation prompted IOA chief Vijay Kumar Malhotra to send a second letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge exactly six months before the Games, saying there was no need to carry "this toxic legacy".
"...the resignation of Ms Meredith Alexander from the Games Ethics Committee - the Commission for Sustainable London 2012 - has vindicated IOA's stand of opposing Dow's sponsorship," Malhotra wrote in his letter. "I am sure that you are well aware of the growing opposition to this sponsorship the world over with NGOs , intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, Members of British Parliament and civil society openly coming out against it.
Later senior Labour party figures such as Keith Vaz and Tessa Jowell (shadow Olympics minister) have also called for an audit of the process by which Dow Chemical was awarded the sponsorship.
However, London 2012 chief executive, Paul Deighton, insisted that after Alexander's resignation, it would not reconsider the decision to award the contract to Dow. He added: "It is absolutely her right to resign... I think that it is great that we have got this independent function to oversee so all this is washed through transparently… but we are moving on."
Meredith Alexendar resigned as chairperson of the ethics committee of the London Olympics Committee over sponsorship of the Games by Dow Chemicals, current owner of the Union Carbide. This has exposed Dow Chemical's lies that the London Olympic Committee and its Chairman Lord Coe.
"Centre should take cue from games' panel chief resignation"
Bhopal, Jan 27 (PTI) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan has urged the Centre to take a moral lesson from Meredith Alexender, who resigned as chairperson of the Ethics Committee of the London Olympics over the issue of sponsorship of the Games by Dow Chemicals.
"The Government of India should take a cue from Alexender who resigned on moral grounds from the Ethics Committee of the London Olympics and must strongly take up the case of sponsorship of the Games by Dow Chemicals with the organisers," Chouhan told reporters here.
He said that he will again write to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue, requesting him either to persuade the Organisers to drop Dow Chemicals, current owner of Union Carbide which was responsible for killing thousands and maimed lakhs of others, from the Games or "show courage to withdraw from the Olympics in protest."
The Chief Minister also asked that if such a thing had happened in any other country, would they have allowed such a company to sponsor any major event. "Do they think that life of Indians is cheap," he asked.
UCC, Dow feel campaign heat, rush to Supreme Court
Feeling the heat of adverse worldwide campaign in support of additional compensation to Bhopal gas tragedy victims, US-based multinational Dow Chemicals and its wholly owned subsidiary have rushed to the Supreme Court, requesting it to expeditiously decide the Centre's plea for an additional Rs 7,844 crore payment from them.
Interestingly, both Dow and UCC had replied to the Centre's curative petition seeking revision of the 1989 settlement of $ 470 million saying the Supreme Court of India had no jurisdiction over the two companies, which have neither any business dealings nor own any assets, in the country.
Dow Chemicals had also declined to share its wholly owned subsidiary Union Carbide Corporation's alleged past additional liability towards compensating gas victims.
The same companies, through their counsel Shiraz Contractor Patodia, have now written to the Registrar of the apex court requesting an urgent hearing on the Centre's plea. They have claimed that during its pendency, "UCC had been subjected to an unprecedented, heightened media campaign by certain interest groups."
"This campaign is laden with false information and insinuations, including labeling UCC as a poisoner. It blames UCC and Dow Chemicals Company for not bringing a closure to the Bhopal matter, despite the fact that over three decades have gone by since the gas tragedy," it said.
"The campaign cites the pending curative petitions as evidence of the fact that the Bhopal matter has not been closed - seeking to contradict the UCC position that after the settlement of 1989 and the Supreme Court's judgment in 1991, the matter had attained finality," it said.
"The campaign also expressly seeks to interfere with the lawful contracts and business activities of UCC's shareholders and Dow Chemicals. In view of the above and in the interest of justice, early disposal and hearing of the matter has now become necessary," it said.
The UCC had in its reply to the Centre's curative petition narrated the long and winding negotiation process in the late 1980s resulting in a settlement for payment of $470 million as full and final settlement towards compensating the victims of the world's biggest industrial disaster. A section of civil society had opposed Dow Chemicals sponsoring London 2012 Olympics because of UCC's role in Bhopal gas tragedy and the alleged inadequate compensation given to victims.
The UCC had said the victims have been more than adequately compensated and under the law UCC was not required to pay a penny more. It said if the 1989 settlement was to be reviewed, then it must be set aside first and the money paid by it be refunded. However, it also argued that it would cause grave prejudice to a private party to contest a compensation case 27 years after the tragedy.
The Times of India
Bhopal victims burn Chidambaram's effigy
Victims and survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy burnt an effigy of Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday here in protest against the recent decision of the Group of Ministers on Bhopal of not revising the figures of deaths and injuries caused by the disaster in the curative petition pending before the Supreme Court.
Victims, calling for his removal as the chairperson of the GoM, alleged that Mr. Chidambaram has a history of being “devoted to Union Carbide’s owner Dow Chemical”.
“The decision is unilaterally imposed by Mr. Chidambaram on the entire group. It goes against scientific data compiled by the government’s own apex research agency Indian Council of Medical Research,” said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh.
Presenting a copy of a letter written by Chidambaram to the PMO in 2006, Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said, “Mr. Chidambaram had written to the Prime Minister to let Dow Chemical walk away from its liabilities in Bhopal. His latest attempt to downplay the damage caused by the American company shows how devoted he continues to be to Dow Chemical Company”.
Survivor organizations also sent a copy of a letter addressed to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan by Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh religious leaders seeking withdrawal of criminal cases against gas victims related to the incident of violence on the 27th Anniversary of the disaster last year.
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