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Dow to clean up Bhopal site

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Oct 15, 2007 | From the print edition

Union Carbide plant in Bhopal< (Credit: SURYA SEN / CSE)dow Chemicals has agreed to pay up for cleaning up the site of Union Carbide plant in Bhopal but it wants all legal liabilities of the 1984 disaster removed against them. According to reports, Dow has insisted that their voluntary payment must not be considered an obligation for the disaster but must be seen as a gesture of corporate social responsibility. According to company officials, Dow, which is planning to invest around us $1 billion, will not be able to do so if the legal liabilities and pending cases against it are not removed.

Civil societies in Bhopal, however, have opposed any kind of waiver. According to Satinath Sarangi, member of Bhopal Group for Information and Action, a local ngo, residents of Bhopal do not want to clear Dow of any legal liabilities.

Meanwhile, major differences between Union ministries of chemical and law seems to have cropped up over the exact responsibility of Dow Chemicals in the restoration process. While the ministry of chemical insists Dow pay up Rs 100 crore in advance so that removal of the toxic elements at the site can be carried out even before the Madhya Pradesh High Court gives a final judgment, the law ministry insists the government first scrutinise the deal between Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals and whether the legal liabilities were passed on when Dow bought Union Carbide in 2001.

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