Bhopal gas tragedy survivors protest at Dow Chemical’s office


Noida: Demanding that Dow Chemicals pay for cleaning up the toxic contamination due to the Bhopal gas tragedy, more than 300 survivors of the disaster staged a protest outside the company’s office in this Uttar Pradesh suburb of Delhi Thursday.

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The protesters gathered outside the company’s office at Sector-62 here Thursday morning and burnt effigies symbolising Dow Chemicals. They raised slogans against Dow and declared that protests to force the company to quit India would continue till it accepted liability in Bhopal.

The tragedy occurred on the intervening night of Dec 2-3, 1984, when tonnes of Methyl Iso Cyanate (MIC) and other lethal gases spewed out of the Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, killing more than 3,500 people instantly and maiming several thousand others for life.

The protesters demanded that Dow Chemical present its subsidiary Union Carbide in the ongoing criminal case in Bhopal and pay for cleaning up of toxic contamination and consequent health damage.

Survivor organisations such as Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila-Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children Against Dow-Carbide took part in the protest.

The organisations pointed out that while Dow proclaims its innocence to the media it continues to shy away from dialogue with gas tragedy victims.

“In Europe, over the past month, two Dow offices – Dow Benelux and Dow Sweden – promised to meet a delegation of Bhopal survivors and supporters. Both cancelled at the last minute after receiving instructions from the head office in Midland, Michigan,” a statement said.

“Because of the struggle of survivors, Dow Chemical has not been able to make any significant investment in the country after it took over Union Carbide in 2001. And now that the second generation of survivors has also joined the struggle, things will only go worse for Dow Chemical,” said Hazra Bee, a long time leader of the survivors.

“Supporters from more than 80 locations in 20 states around India, in addition to 50 locations in 17 countries have expressed their intent to take action in support of the Bhopal survivors this year. Dow offices in several parts of the world will be the target of demonstrations by supporters in the week beginning Dec 3, 2009,” the statement added.

Some of the countries where solidarity activities are planned include Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Israel, Switzerland, Thailand, China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Canada and the US.