Business, Economics and Jobs

India: Bhopal holds Special Olympics to protest Dow's role in London


An Indian disabled child suffering from the effects of the 1984 Bhopal disaster, reacts in discomfort while waiting to participate in a march during a 'Special Olympics' in Bhopal on July 26, 2012



Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy on Thursday organized a 'Bhopal Special Olympics' to protest against Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the London Olympics, calling out the multinational for spending money on advertising while victims of the accident touted as the world's worst industrial disaster continue to suffer.

According to the Times of India, some 45 children with physical and mental disabilities, part of the second generation of victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, participated in the games -- which included a wheel-chair race, crab walking and softball throw.

In the leadup to the London Olympics, a number of organizations called for Dow Chemical to be barred from sponsoring the Games, and there was a grassroots push for India to boycott the event if the company did not drop its bid. But in the end, nothing came of the effort.

Not a single political leader, not even the local member of the legislative assembly, showed up for the Bhopal Special Olympics, the paper said.

Dow Chemical acquired the assets and liabilities of Union Carbide in 2001. But Dow has never taken responsibility for cleaning up the environmental damage or met local demands for compensation. 

In December 1984, a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, leaked methyle isocyanate gas and other chemicals into the atmosphere and groundwater, exposing hundreds of thousands of people to toxic substances. Between 2000 and 4000 people died in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, and various estimates suggest that as many as 8,000 have died over the subsequent years due to contamination. Even today, local residents complain of birth defects and illnesses they believe stem from exposure to polluted water.

In June, a US court ruled that neither Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) nor its former chairman Warren Anderson were liable for environmental remediation (reversing or stopping environmental damage) or pollution-related claims by those living around its now-defunct plant in Bhopal, according to the Hindustan Times

The court ruled that it was Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL), and not its parent company UCC, that was responsible for the generation and disposal of the waste that polluted drinking water, and that the liability rests with the Madhya Pradesh state government.

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