India R&D facility is not hazardous, says Dow

15 February 2008 17:11  [Source: ICIS news]

MUMBAI (ICIS news)--Dow Chemical International has been advised to put advertisements in all local newspapers in India's Chakhan region to explain that its under-construction $102m research and development (R&D) centre near Pune is not hazardous after a protest by villagers, a company spokesperson said on Friday.

"We are definitely considering the option for putting up advertisements in the Marathi newspapers," NY Sanglikar, Dow Chemical International's local director of public affairs told ICIS news.

A committee set up by the state government for evaluating the impact of the research facility held its first meeting on Thursday, which included 12 members from the village and eight members representing the state.

Neeraj Jain, a local campaigner, said many villagers had boycotted the meeting claiming that the committee was a scam.

"In our opinion the committee set up by Dow is a whitewash," he added.

The villagers opposition to the R&D centre was based on the fact Dow had acquired Union Carbide in 2001, the company at the centre of the disaster which killed thousands of people in the Indian city of Bhopal in 1984.

Some villagers did participate in the meeting but others did walk out, said Sanglikar. "It is unfortunate that some rejected to sit across the table," he added.

Dow was not producing any chemicals in India which had been banned in other countries, he said.

A second meeting would be conducted on the 25 February but Jain said it would be boycotted by villagers.

"We have nothing to do with Union Carbide India Limited. That company was sold off by the government. It is unfortunate that a project that could put India and Chakan on the chemical technologies map of India should run into this kind of problem," Ramesh Ramachandran, president and CEO of Dow India, had said previously.

By: Aaron Rodrigues
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