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Bhopal gas victims slam Dow sponsoring London Olympics

The victims of the 1984 Bhopal tragedy have joined British MPs and rights groups in opposing the 2012 London Olympics being sponsored by Dow Chemical Company, which owns the now-abandoned unit here whose gas leak killed thousands, an activist said Tuesday.

The survivors of world’s worst industrial disaster fighting for justice for nearly 27 years recently raised concerns that Dow was sponsoring the Olympics.

On the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas had leaked from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, now owned by Dow Chemical, leading to the death of 3,000 instantly and 25,000 over the years. Over 500,000 people have been affected so far.

“British MP Keith Vaz raised the issue of Dow sponsorship of the London Olympics in an Early Day Motion Oct 10 in the house of commons. His motion has already got support from 14 MPs,” Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) told reporters.

“Amnesty International has written to the chairman of organising committee of the Olympic Games expressing serious concerns on selecting Dow Chemical as a sponsor,” she said.

The survivors, led by five organisations, said that there was massive outrage in Britain but what was absolutely disgusting was that neither Prime Minister Manmohan Singh nor the acting president of Indian Olympic Association Vijay Kumar Malhotra had issued any letter of concern on this sponsorship.

“In August, Malhotra told different media channels that the issue of Dow sponsoring the Olympics was a grave concern and that he would write to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) chairman. The survivors have been regularly following up with his office but Malhotra does not seem to have time to write the letter,” she said.

“The response from the Prime Minister’s Office has been pretty much the same. The five organisations working on this issue had written a letter to Manmohan Singh and Malhotra asking them to register protest with the British government and LOCOG chair,” she added.

The survivors said that they would also write to LOCOG chairman Lord Sebastian Coe and tell him that as the 100 percent owner of Union Carbide, Dow Chemical was responsible for the continuing deaths in Bhopal caused by the 1984 gas disaster.

Dow had refused to clean up the contamination in and around the abandoned Union Carbide plant that was still causing birth defects and deaths, they alleged.

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