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Bhopal NGOs reveal Wikileaks' cables on Dow Chemicals

Allege that Indian govt kowtowed to US pressure to serve the interests of Dow Chemical and Union Carbide in Bhopal

Shashikant Trivedi  |  Bhopal 

Five non-government organisations (NGOs) working in the interest of gas survivors today revealed few documents and have alleged Government of India of kowtowing to US Government pressure to serve the interests of and Dow Chemical in The gas tragedy happened on 2 December 1984 claimed thousands of lives and left several injured. Hundreds of people are still suffering even after 28 years of the tragedy.

Citing recently released documents from Wikileaks' "Kissinger Cables," chief activists of these NGOs allegedly said that former Commerce Minister and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman welcomed Dow investments in India and contradicted the Government of India's stated position on Dow's liabilities in India.

Revealing a cable sent by Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi Steven J White on July 27, 2007 activists Rachna Dhingra, Balkrishna Namdeo, Rashida Bee and Satinath Sarangi said the available cables indicate that the Government of India has consistently shortchanged Indians and Bhopalites and served the interests of Corporation. As early as in the 1970s, the Government of India compromised on principles related to foreign exchange to help retain majority control over UCIL.

The activists said and alleged, “During the CEO forum event in October 2006, Government of India officials including Commerce Minister Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman stated that they welcomed further Dow investment in India and did not believe that Dow was responsible for the disaster site clean-up."

US Ambassador David Mulford is also reported to be urging the Government of India to “drop its claims against Dow” in a cable sent on September 18, 2007. In reply, the NGOs have alleged, Ahluwalia assures the Ambassador that the Government of India does not hold Dow responsible for the cleanup but is unable to withdraw its claims against Dow because of “active and vocal” NGOs. According to the cable, the NGOs further alleged, Ahluwalia then advised the Ambassador to discuss the issue of Dow Chemical’s Bhopal liabilities with Finance Minister Chidambaram.

The Bhopal organisations Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children Against Dow Carbide further said

that a cable sent by Deputy Chief of Mission David T Schneider from the US Embassy in New Delhi on February 4, 1975 shows that the Government of India allowed Union Carbide, USA to bypass the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act and obtain loans from American Exim Bank instead of an Indian financing agency. Presenting another cable to media here, the NOGs said the cable of September 11, 1975 from US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the US Embassy in India shows the support the US government gave to Union Carbide, USA in securing loans from the US Exim Bank for its Bhopal operations.

The organisations also presented copy of a cable sent by the then US Ambassador in India William Saxbe on April 20, 1976 that expresses satisfaction at the dilution of FERA guidelines so that Union Carbide can continue to hold majority stakes in its Indian subsidiary.

The five organizations Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Children against Dow and Carbide and Bhopal Group for Information & Action stated that the documents highlight the historical roots of the continuing injustice in the case of the world’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal.

They said that the injustice in Bhopal is being perpetuated by the support of the US and Indian government to Union Carbide and Dow Chemical as well as that by traitors such as Kamal Nath, Chidambaram and Ahluwalia.

First Published: Wed, April 17 2013. 12:18 IST