08/10/2011, 00.00
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Olympic sponsor’s responsibility in Bhopal disaster angers Indians

by Nirmala Carvalho
Indian authorities and an NGO call for an end to sponsorship, saying it violates Olympic code of ethics. Dow Chemicals, which now owns the plant that poisoned to death 20,000 people in 1984, rejects the blame, noting that it bought the plant in 2001.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Anger is growing in India Dow Chemicals, the world’s largest plastic maker, is one of the official sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics. The multinational now owns the Bhopal plant where at least 20,000 people were killed following a chemical spill in 1984. The effects of the disasters on local residents continue to this day.

Dow Chemicals has rejected the blame, noting that it bought the plant from Union Carbide in 2001. However, Rachna Dhingra, a Bhopal-based NGO, the multinational has not done enough to help the victims of the tragedy. For the association, thousands of tonnes of toxic waste are still stored in Bhopal and continue to cause different kinds of disabilities and death.

For Rachna Dhingra, the Dow Chemicals sponsorship violates the code of ethics of the Olympics and constitutes a form of discrimination against the Indian people. For this reason, it plans a global petition sponsored by the Indian Olympics Committee to have the partnership between Dow Chemicals and the Olympics Organising Committee cancelled.

“We do not know if India’s request has any validity. What is certain is that it will bring to the fore a long forgotten tragedy, whose victims need justice and mercy,” said Nishant A. Irudayadason, a professor of political philosophy and ethics at the Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth Institute in Pune. “Dow Chemicals might advertise the Games by showing concern for the tragedy’s victims.”

Caused by the release of 40 tonnes of Methyl isocyanate (cyanide) at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, the disaster is considered one of the worst environmental disasters in human history.

At least, 3,500 people died in the hours that followed the accident, with another 20,000 in the months that followed. About 150,000 people were left permanently disabled. Even today, local hospitals treat about 6,000 people each day from respiratory, motorial and cerebral problems caused by ground contamination.

However, for the government of Madhya Pradesh, there are no dangers in the area.
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