It looks like Dow Chemical will not be able to easily forget the Bhopal gas tragedy or rather India will not allow the company to move ahead. The latest is news of protests against Dow’s planned R&D centre at Chakan, near Pune.
Led by NGOs, locals blocked access to the site of Dow’s proposed global research centre on 16 January and brought work to a halt.
Their opposition was based on fears that chemicals produced at the R&D facility would impact the local environment. And NGOs have for long been demanding that Dow should accept all liabilities of the tragic accident at the former Union Carbide facility in Bhopal in 1984. Dow acquired Union Carbide in 2001.
Ramesh Ramachandran, president and ceo of Dow India has said that it was unfortunate that the R&D project should run into this problem. The company has also indicated its willingness to provide a written assurance to the villagers of Chakan that the new facility would be only for research and that operations would not, in any way, harm them, their cattle or their land.
Some relief appears to be in sight. According to this report, district officials have held talks withlocals to clear their doubts and villagers have agreed that work can resume at the site after a certification from the National Chemical Laboratory.
There is no denying that the people of India have a right to ensure that chemical plants do not pollute the environment. But why just target Dow? Perhaps it is time to take a closer look at many of the small and mid sized facilities in places such as Vapi in Gujarat which is ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world.