Decades Later, Toxic Sludge Torments Bhopal
July 18, 2005
legacy fouls Dow's buiness deal with Indian Oil Corporation
Dow Chemical's business expansion plans in India suffered their first serious setback after a campaign by survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster resulted in a dramatic reversal of Indian Oil Corporation's decision to purchase technology from Dow for IOC's proposed mono ethylene glycol plant in Panipat, India. The Bhopal streets were agog today with survivors celebrating the victory.
Sources from Indian Oil have confirmed that their agreement with Dow was cancelled after IOC found that critical submissions made by Dow were false. Dow had conveyed to IOC that the technology in question was a patented Dow technology, developed and marketed by Dow. However, Bhopal campaigners unearthed and presented evidence to the Government and IOC that confirmed that the Meteor technology remained a Union Carbide technology. Despite that, the Ministry of Chemicals and the Secretariat for Industrial Approvals have failed to reject Dow's proposed business in India. "The Government must be ashamed of its lack of courage and decisiveness in dealing with fraudulent corporations like Dow. If the WorldCom scandal demonstrates the high levels at which the corporate crime game is played, the casual manner in which Indian Oil and the Government of India are dealing with Dow's dishonesty and lack of respect for law tells you why WorldComs happen," said Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group of Information and Action.
In their response to IOC, Dow officials have reportedly alleged that the cancellation of the deal has caused a loss of 1.5 million US dollars.
Dow subsidiary Union Carbide was declared an absconder by the Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate's court for the company's failure to appear in a criminal case against it for its role in perpetrating the Bhopal disaster. In November 2004, Bhopal survivors and their supporters launched a nationwide agitation demanding the blacklisting of Dow Chemical by the Government, and protesting against Indian Oil's proposal to do business with a company that has refused to address its pending Bhopal liabilities. In January 2005, the Bhopal Magistrate ordered the issuance of summons to Dow Chemical requiring the parent company to produce Carbide in Court. Dow says that it does not recognise the Indian court's criminal jurisdiction over Carbide.
"Dow has been implying that it can and will do nothing to help the people of Bhopal, and that the unresolved troubles in Bhopal have no impact on Dow as the parent corporation of Union Carbide. Indian Oil's actions demonstrate the enormous reputational costs of Dow's inaction and lack of accountability," says Sanford Lewis, a Boston-based attorney who assisted some Dow shareholders to move a resolution in 2004 urging Dow to disclose its unresolved liabilities in Bhopal.
On 27 May, 2005, Shahid
Noor, a survivor youth leader, launched a boycott of Indian Oil
petrol stations with the support of student organisations and
transport worker unions in Chennai and Bhopal.
Madras Bulls, a Chennai-based collective of Royal Enfield motorcycle enthusiasts, led a rally from Mayiladuthurai ? Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar's constituency ? to Chennai.
Says attorney Rajan Sharma, who is conducting the Bhopal survivors' class action suit against Dow in New York, "The success of the survivors' campaign should send a message to Dow Chemical that it cannot do business as usual in India unless it resolves Union Carbide's liabilities for Bhopal, including the New York civil claims for environmental remediation and the criminal charges for the 1984 disaster which remain pending."
Indian Oil's u-turn is a significant blow to Dow, which has earmarked South Asia as a critical region for future growth of its global businesses. More than the financial loss, Dow's problem arises from the fact that a blue-chip Indian company has rejected its bid due to suppression of facts relating to Carbide's ownership of the technology in question. Dow retains four major subsidiaries in India, all of which now look vulnerable to further protests.
At the Dow shareholders AGM in May 2004, survivor leaders and Goldman award winners Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla issued an ultimatum to Dow that they would preventing Dow's expansion in Asia. "Dow's true face as a company that resorts to untruths to further its business now stands revealed. Dow shareholders and investors have refused to question their company on humanitarian grounds. Let this be a message to shareholders that the Bhopalis too mean business, and we'll work to erode Dow's shareholder value by preventing its expansion in India," said Rashida Bee.
April 16, 2008 Dow
Dow Europe and Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd. Sign Joint Venture Agreement
Dow Europe GmbH (Dow), a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, and Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd (GACL), a company promoted by Government of Gujarat, announced today the signing of a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) for the construction, operation and ownership of a 200 kilotons per year chloromethanes manufacturing facility in Gujarat, India. The agreement allows Dow and GACL to complete a study, begin work on definitive agreements and work towards financial closure which is estimated to be completed by late 2008. Estimated to be operational in 2011, the new production unit would be located at Dahej, Gujarat on the western coast of India. The parties will form a 50:50 joint venture company to manage local permitting processes.
Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited (GACL) was incorporated on 29th March, 1973 in the State of Gujarat by Gujarat Industrial Investment Corporation Limited (GIIC), a wholly owned company of Govt. of Gujarat, as a Core Promoter. GACL has two units located at Vadodara (Baroda) and Dahej , both in the State of Gujarat. It has integrated manufacturing facilities for Caustic Soda, Chlorine, Hydrogen Gas, Hydrochloric Acid, Chloromethanes, Hydrogen Peroxide, Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Potassium Carbonate, Sodium Cyanide, Sodium Ferrocyanide, Aluminium Chloride, Poly Aluminium Chloride, CPW etc. Its manufacturing capacity for caustic soda is 412,500 tonnes per annum and is the largest in India. The Dahej unit also has 90 MW Captive Power Plant (CPP) for regular and economical power supply. More information about GACL can be found at www.gacl.com.