Lending support to the struggling survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas
Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial disaster, 21 former Indian
Olympians have come forward and jointly petitioned the organizers
of the London Olympics 2012, the London Organising Committee of
Olympic Games, (LOCOG), to cancel the sponsorship of Dow Chemical
Company of a curtain-style wrap to encircle a London stadium where
some Olympic events will be held.
The Dow Chemical Company is the current owner of Union Carbide,
the American multinational responsible for the continuing disaster
The representatives of five NGOs working for the welfare of the
survivors of the gas tragedy on Monday addressed a joint Press
conference wherein four former hockey Olympians namely Inam-ur–Rehman,
B. P. Govinda, Syed Ali and Syed Jalaluddin Rizvi and
international hockey player Salim Abbasi have supported the demand
were also present.
These Olympians who are amongst the signatories of the joint
letter said that in view of the current plight of the victims and
the environment in Bhopal, Dow’s sponsorship is offensive to the
spirit of the Olympic Games. They said that national and
international Olympians should oppose the unholy alliance with the
company that has poisoned Bhopal.
They presented a list of 21
Indian Olympians who have so far signed on to an ongoing petition
addressed to the organizers of the London Olympics 2012 – LOCOG.
The 21 former Olympians are: Ali Sayeed, B.P. Govinda, M.P. Ganesh,
Mukhbain Singh, V.J. Phillips, Ashok Kumar Dhyanchand, Syed Ali,
Vasudevan Baskaran, Jalaluddin Rizvi, Hardeep Singh Grewal, Vineet
Kumar, Balwinder Singh, Sujit Kumar, Jagbir Singh, Gavin Ferreira,
Dhanraj Pillay, Sameer Daad, A. B. Subbaiah (all Hockey) and
Ashwini Nachapa (Track & Field).
The five NGOs who organized the joint Press conference are: Bhopal
Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit
Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit
Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and
Action and Children Against Dow Carbide.
Meanwhile, according to Ms Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for
Information and Action, (BGIA), a section of British Members of
Parliament, (MPs), cutting across party line and supporters of gas
tragedy survivors in England would hold a demonstration outside
London Olympic stadium at 1.00 pm local time on Tuesday to protest
Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of London Olympics.
Ms Dhingra said that on the initiative of BGIA that the British
MPs have taken up the issue of Olympics sponsorship. MP of Indian
origin, Keith Vaz initiated an early day-motion on the issue in
the House of Commons of British Parliament last month signed by 17
It may be mentioned here that the International Olympic Committee
has taken decision to partner with Union Carbide's parent company,
namely The Dow Chemical Company, for the London Olympics 2012, the
2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the 2016 Rio Olympics
and the 2020 Olympics”.
The former Olympians requested all the concerned authorities that
they reconsider their decision on accepting sponsorship from Dow
Chemical Company for London Olympics and also the future Olympic
The letter said: “We have been told by the victims of the world’s
worst industrial disaster that Dow Chemical is the owner of Union
Carbide Corporation; company responsible for the 1984 disaster.
Indian courts have proclaimed Union Carbide Corporation as an
absconder and have held Dow Chemical responsible to bring this
corporation to the court. Dow Chemical has yet to fulfill its
“Union Carbide is responsible for creating an environmental
disaster in Bhopal due to it. The toxic waste dumped inside and
around the factory has led to the contamination of ground water of
more than 40,000 people and the contamination poses grave risks to
their lives and health. Countless children are being born with
deformities and intellectual deficits due to the effect of these
poisons”, the letter stated.
The ex-Olympians in the letter said: “The Government of India too
holds Dow Chemical legally responsible for clean-up of the factory
site, but again the company has refused to accept its
responsibility. We, the members of International Olympic community
feel that it will be against the basic principles of the Olympic
charter to partner with a Dow Chemical, which is responsible for
the ongoing disaster in Bhopal”.
However, Dow Chemical Company has maintained that it never owned
or operated the Bhopal plant and that legal claims regarding the
gas leak were resolved when Union Carbide paid $470 million as
compensation for those killed or injured. The Indian Union
Government is seeking an additional $1.7 billion for the victims.
Meanwhile, the Bhopal survivors’ organizations condemned the
Indian government and the Indian Olympic Committee for their
deliberate inaction regarding sponsorship of the Olympic Games by
a corporation responsible for poisoning and maiming thousands of
“It is three months since we requested the Prime Minister and the
Acting Chairman of the Indian Olympic Committee to register the
country’s opposition to Dow Chemical sponsoring the Olympic Games
in London next year but neither of them has moved on this.” said
Ms Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery
Satinath Sarangi of BGIA said that as 100 per cent owner, Dow
Chemical is sheltering the Union Carbide that is absconding from
charges of culpable homicide in Indian courts for the last 19
years. They pointed out that Dow Chemical is also violating Indian
laws by refusing to clean up the toxic contamination of soil and
ground water caused by reckless dumping of hazardous waste by
Union Carbide, USA.
“We are certainly not against the London Olympic Games, said
Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi
Sangharsh Morcha, “in fact we are opposing the besmirching of the
reputation of the Olympic Games through its association with a
Ms Rachna Dhingra of BGIA pointed out that the Indian government
has blacklisted Dow Agro-sciences for bribing government
officials. She said that recently the government has also
cancelled the registration of three pesticides of this wholly
owned subsidiary of Dow Chemicals for the same criminal offence.
Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
said that the survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal
would observe its 27th anniversary as a day of action against Dow
Chemical’s sponsorship of the London Olympics. He said that Dow
Chemical would be burnt in effigy in the form of a five headed
monster snake holding the Olympic rings.
“Because of Dow Chemical’s refusal to clean up Bhopal’s poisons,
hundreds of children are being born disabled. It is indeed
shocking that the organizers of the London Olympics have not cared
to find out about their sponsor’s misdeeds” said Safreen Khan of
the Children against Dow / Carbide.
Meanwhile, Dow Chemical’s liabilities in Bhopal regarding soil and
ground water contamination through reckless disposal of hazardous
waste is enormous. From 1969 to 1984 Union Carbide generated
thousands of tonnes of toxic waste that it dumped in insecure pits
and ponds in and around the factory as part of its waste disposal
system designed by the corporate headquarters in Danbury, USA.
There are more than a dozen scientific studies
by government and non-government agencies starting from 1990 till
2010 that establish that cancer and birth defect causing chemicals
have leached from the wastes and gone in to the ground water that
the communities next to the abandoned factory use for drinking.
Over 40, 000 residents have been drinking this water for last 14
to 20 years and the injuries as a result of this slow poisoning
have manifested as alarming rate of horrific birth defects,
cancers and chronic diseases of the liver, kidneys, lungs, brain,
abdomen and skin.
According to the “polluter pays” principle, established in both
India and USA, the designer and supervisor of the waste disposal
system in the Bhopal factory, Union Carbide continues to be liable
for the environmental damage (at least till a distance of 3.5
kilometers from the factory and at least 100 feet deep).
may be pointed out that this was in clear violation of the lease
agreement signed with the Madhya Pradesh Government that
stipulated returning the land “in its original condition”. As per
the “successor liability” principle, again established in both
India and USA, as 100 per cent owner of Union Carbide, USA, TDCC
is liable for the continuing environmental and health damage in
Holding TDCC liable for Union Carbide’s misdeeds, in 2005
the Government of India presented an application before the Madhya
Pradesh High Court seeking Rs. 100 crores (22 million USD) from
Dow Chemical as an advance for remediation of the toxic
contamination in Bhopal. The application lies pending and the
money remains unpaid till date.
TDCC is following a racist policy of double standards the
corporation is following with regard to its legally inherited
Bhopal liabilities. Till date the company refuses to accept this
legal liability claiming instead that Union Carbide is a separate
and independent company and therefore beyond its control.
Dow Chemical’s refusal is rather
contrary to its stance in the USA where, following the 2001
merger, outstanding liabilities of Union Carbide are directly
addressed by Dow representatives and, once paid, are registered as
charges upon Dow’s consolidated earnings.