IITs urge bar on any tie up with Dow Chemicals

New Delhi, Oct 25 ; Alumni of Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) have urged IITs to bar Union Carbide owner, Dow Chemical Company (DCC) from any partnership with premier institutes.

Over 1000 alumni and faculty members signed a petition barring DCC from entering into any partnerships or recruitment of students from various IITs across the country.

"Not to allow Dow to recruit students from IIT's and not to have any kind of relationship with IIT's. Basically, Dow is trying to gain legitimacy by having relations with IIT's," said Arvind Kejriwal, Magasaysay award winner and an IIT alumni.

Praful Bidwai, another alumni of IIT and noted columnist, added, "Dow Chemicals, we also know has an extremely questionable record both in the United States and other parts of the world. It would be a terribly dangerous precedent for Dow to be exonerated of its legal, ethical and moral liabilities.”

In December 1984, tonnes of toxic gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, killing 3,500 people immediately, and maintaining thousands more.
According to the activists, the actual death toll from post-disaster diseases is almost 33,000, and continues to rise as people living near the plant drink water poisoned by chemical waste.

Union Carbide, after a protracted legal battle, paid 470 million dollars to the Indian Government as settlement in 1989. The victims, on an average, received 25,000 rupees in case of illness and 100,000 rupees or so in case of a death in the family.

It also accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a 100 million dollar charitable trust fund to build a hospital for victims. Later, Union Carbide was taken over by Dow Chemical.

Michigan-based Dow Chemical says it is not responsible for the clean up as it never owned or operated the plant. The Madhya Pradesh State Government now owns the abandoned plant.

Twenty-two years on, thousands of victims of the tragedy are still battling deadly diseases.

According to doctors, many survivors -- and some from a generation born after the disaster -- still suffer from deep psychiatric disorders and stunted growth while thousands of women have severe gynaecological problems. (ANI)