Dow Chemicals monitoring activists, influencing Prime Minister’s office & senior law makers
Stop Companies Bill, 2011 legitimizing corporate funding of political parties
Nuclear legislations compromised under illegitimate influence
New Delhi 28/2/2012: Revelations of WikiLeaks that began publishing The Global Intelligence Files, over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor on February 27th, 2012 has proven that the company provided confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Dow Chemical Company that owns Union Carbide Corporation and has the liability for Bhopal’s industrial disaster.
These revelations must be looked in the backdrop of UPA government’s contempt towards Parliament’s intent of Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 that was
undermined through the notification of Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011, an act of subordinate legislation ahead of Prime Minister's meeting with US President on November 18, 2011 at Bali, Indonesia by limiting the liability period from 80 years to 5 years for the culprits of the nuclear accidents. There was such an unprecedented hurry that the government did not have time to consider why countries after countries are giving up nuclear energy option. It did not even wait for the proposed Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill to be passed and re-examine the views of at least 8 secretaries of Government of India who have expressed reservations about nuclear plants in their own way in their testimony to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests.
On the same day, Dow Chemicals Company’s Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, but the same was not disclosed until the return of the Prime Minister. The affidavit stated, “The Union of India (UOI)’s Curative Petition seeks to invalidate the final settlement of all claims arising out of the Bhopal disaster, which was approved twice over by the Supreme Court of India over two decades ago. The Petition is an affront to the rule of law – completely unfounded, both legally and factually.” Unlike in India, in the US Dow settled a case brought against its subsidiary UCC by workers exposed to asbestos in the workplace in January 2002. The case was filed before acquisition of Union Carbide by Dow. Carbide’s new owner, Dow reached a settlement in the case. The company has set aside $2.2 billion to address future liabilities. Globally companies facing asbestos liabilities seem to be in the process of setting up compensation fund-as an out of court settlement exercise- to escape further civil and criminal liability for knowingly exposing workers, their families and consumers domestically and the world over. How is it that UCC is liable for deaths and diseases due to asbestos exposure in the US but it is not so for deaths and diseases caused by UCC’s Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster.
Is it any wonder that Dow Chemicals Company cites on its website the opinion of two senior office bearers of BJP and Indian National Congress in their “Q and A with respect of the Government of India’s request for a Curative Petition”? in the matter of Bhopal’s industrial disaster?. Dow says, “according to the formal legal opinions of two respected Indian jurists, Senior Counsel, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Mr. Arun Jaitely, Dow cannot be found liable under the laws of India. (See the full opinions at: Mr. Arun_Jaitley_Opinion_EXPARTE.pdf, http://www.dow.com/sustainability/debates/pdfs/Arun_Jaitley_Opinion_EXPARTE.pdf; Dr.Abhishek_Manu_Singhvi.pdf,http://www.dow.com/sustainability/debates/pdfs/Dr.Abhishek_Manu_Singhvi_\
March_03_2006.pdf )”. Dr Singhvi gave his 10 page opinion on the letterhead of National Spokesperson of Indian National Congress. Mr Jaitely gave his 15 page opinion on the letter head of the Senior Advocate having phone numbers which is used by him as Member of Parliament. Corporate funding and influence manifests itself in myriad disguises.
Clause 182 of the Companies Bill, 2011 that was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 14, 2011 that seeks to provide the manner and limits up to which a company shall be able to contribute the amount to any political party or to any person for a political purpose. It reads as follows: Notwithstanding anything contained in any other provision of this Act, a company, other than a Government company and a company which has been in existence for less than three financial years, may contribute any amount directly or indirectly to any political party: Provided that the amount referred to in sub-section (1) or, as the case may be, the aggregate of the amount which may be so contributed by the company in any financial year shall not exceed seven and a half per cent of its average net profits during the three immediately preceding financial years:
Referring to the “global intelligence” company Stratfor,WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange said, "This is an organisation that just does not collect information through bribes, insiders, it is also an organisation that acts on that information to subvert particular groups. Stratfor spies or monitors activists seeking redress over the Bhopal tragedy which killed thousands in India." What will be the consequence of a similar company contributing 7.5 % of the annual profit to political parties in India as per Companies Bill, 2011?
Wikileaks revelations show how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients. For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical seeking redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal that led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.
(Read more at the-gifiles.html The same can be downloaded as torrent archive of the gifiles site at wlstorage.net/torrent/gifiles/).
These instances have established that Government of India is not acting as parens patriae (guardian of the nation) as it claimed at the time of passing the Bhopal Gas Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985 in the case against USA’s Union Carbide Corporation, currently owned by USA’s Dow Chemicals Company. It seems that corporations are attempting to become the illegitimate guardian of the government.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 07739308480, 09818089660, E-mail: email@example.com Web: toxicswatch.blogspot.com
Note: The attached 55 page PMO documents shows manifest collusion between ministers, officials and Dow Chemicals to protect it from the liabilities of Industrial catastrophe of Bhopal. The documents reveal how some of the ministers who have been made part of Group of Ministers (GoM) by the Prime Minister have been acting to safeguard the interest of the US corporation in question, which is liable for Bhopal disaster.
The GoM that has been constituted does not inspire confidence. Notably, the GoM, headed by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, was constituted on May 26, 2010 by the PM's Office. The documents gathered using RTI reveal how Chidambaram and Kamal Nath 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 merger.
In a letter dated November 10, 2006, Chidambaram wrote to the Prime Minister about his visit to United Sates to review issues with the Indo-US CEO Forum in New York wherein he submitted a tour report mentioning his comments on Ahluwalia’s note. Referring to the matter of Dow Chemicals, Ratan Tata’s offer for remediation, he stated has stated, “I think we should accept this offer” in his comments dated 5th December, 2006. In December 2006, Dr S Jaishankar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs in note titled “Issues Emerging from Indo-US CEO’s meeting” underlies how Dow has “sought a statement from GOI (Government of India) in the Court clarifying that GOI does not regard Dow as legally responsible for liabilities UCC” and wants to avoid “cloud of legal liability”.
In February 2007, Kamal Nath even wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the matter. In the letter, despite acknowledging the fact that the matter is sub judice he said “that a group under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary be formed to look” in the matter of the liability of the Dow Chemicals “in holistic manner in a similar manner as was done in respect to the Enron Corporation with respect to Dabhol Corporation”. The immorality of his suggestion lies in the fact that ignores the Enron scandal that led to the bankruptcy of the Enron Corporation, a US energy company.
Incidentally, Ratan Tata in his role as the Chairman of the three-member Investment Commission, set up in the Ministry of Finance in December 2004 by the Government of India wrote to P Chidamabram, the then Finance Minister suggesting setting up a Fund for remediation on the site of Bhopal disaster that “would cost approximately Rs 100 crores.”
Donning another hat Tata wrote again as the Chairman, Tata Sons Limited to Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Government of India on October 9, 2006 with regard to resolve “various legacy issues” of “Dow Chemicals” pursuant to the recommendations of the Indo-US CEO Forum pointing out how the Investment Commission has not had “much success” in this regard. He referred to the interest of Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemicals with regard to approaches/solutions to the issue.” Chairman, Tata Sons Limited, Tata wrote again to Montek Singh on November 26, 2006 referring to letter of Andrew Liveris that was sent to Ronen Sen, India’s Ambassador to US wherein a request was made saying that “it is critical for them to have the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers withdraw their application for a financial deposit by Dow against the remediation cost, as that application implies that the Government of India views Dow as ‘liable’ in the Bhopal Gas disaster case.”
Notably, Liveris had complained to Ronen Sen about how “GOI (Government of India) has taken position adverse to Dow“, in the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The case is still pending. Chairman, Tata Sons Limited, Tata wrote again this to time to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 5th January 2007 wherein he put on record the meeting of the members of Investment Commission with the PM to discuss “the old Union Carbide tragedy”. The PMO’s letter from the B V R Subramanyam, Private Secretary of the Prime Minister dated January 12, 2007 assured Tata that “the matter is being examined” and “the Prime Minister has seen” his letter and “ has taken note of its contents”.
The core issue that has emerged from the Bhopal’s Industrial Disaster is that it has adversely impacted the Liability Regime for Nuclear Damages. 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. The liability regime must be internalized in the Companies Bill, 2011 itself.
Why South Asia needs a non-nuclear future - Risky nuclear energy can be replaced by safer and cheaper options in South Asia, writes Pervez Hoodbhoy.