NGOs criticise London Olympics chief over Dow stand

Bhopal: The NGOs fighting for the rights of Bhopal gas tragedy victims slammed Olympic organising committee chief Paul Deighton for his statement that the Games authority would not reconsider the sponsorship contract to Dow Chemicals, even after the resignation of Ethics Committee head Meredith Alexander.

Deighton`s statement is extremely shameful because it continued to spread the lie which Dow Chemicals wanted everyone to believe -- that it faced no liability for the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984, said Rashida Bee of `Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh` in a release.

Through its purchase of Union Carbide in 2001, Dow Chemicals had inherited the criminal, civil and environmental liabilities of Union Carbide gas leak, she said. By having Dow as a sponsor, the London Olympics Organising Committee (LOCOG) was encouraging it to continue to evade the liabilities, Rashida said.

Meredith`s resignation was a "clear indication" that LOCOG had decided to shut its ears and eyes to Dow Chemical`s outstanding liabilities, and the least the Committee could do was to give a hearing to Bhopal gas survivors` organisation who could present facts on the issue, she claimed.

Another NGO has criticised the Indian government. Rachna Dhingra of `Bhopal Group for Information & Action` said the Indian government needed to send a strong message to the International Olympic Committee and LOCOG that it would not take part in the Olympics if Dow`s sponsorship was not revoked.

The government was also protecting Dow`s interests by not submitting correct figures of casualties in the (upcoming) curative petition for additional compensation before the Supreme Court, she alleged.