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Updated: January 27, 2012 01:32 IST

Environmentalist quits Olympics ethics panel over Dow's Bhopal links

Hasan Suroor
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File image shows a computer generated image of the London 2012 Olympic Park made available by the Olympic Park Legacy Company. There were fresh calls on Thursday for an independent inquiry into Dow Chemical's controversial sponsorship of the London Olympics after Meredith Alexander, a leading environmentalist, resigned from the Games' ethics committee. File photo
AP File image shows a computer generated image of the London 2012 Olympic Park made available by the Olympic Park Legacy Company. There were fresh calls on Thursday for an independent inquiry into Dow Chemical's controversial sponsorship of the London Olympics after Meredith Alexander, a leading environmentalist, resigned from the Games' ethics committee. File photo

There were fresh calls on Thursday for an independent inquiry into Dow Chemical's controversial sponsorship of the London Olympics after Meredith Alexander, a leading environmentalist, resigned from the Games' ethics committee — the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 — protesting against Dow's links with the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster and accusing the organisers of “toeing” the company's line.

“I feel that the Commission and the London Games organisers are in danger of becoming apologists for Dow Chemicals. They are repeating and falsely legitimising Dow's assertion that they have no responsibility for the Bhopal tragedy,” she told The Hindu, indicating that other members could follow suit.

Terming the deal “ill-judged,” Ms. Alexander said: “I share Amnesty International's view that Olympic bodies are culpable of entering into an ill-judged relationship with Dow, the company that carries the responsibility for the catastrophic gas leak, a responsibility they have repeatedly absconded from.”

She decided to quit after the Commission failed to address the concerns. She felt that continuing to be part of a body that publicly endorsed Dow was “untenable.”

Ms. Alexander, a seasoned campaigner who works for the charity ActionAid, said Dow's involvement had “hurt” the victims' families and “tainted” the Games. “I felt it was absolutely essential for me to stand up and be counted on this.”

She also wanted to highlight the “toxic legacy” of the Bhopal tragedy. “It's one of the worst abuses of human rights in my generation, and I just could not stand idly by.”

The Commission is an official watchdog set up to monitor and ensure that the London Olympics meets its commitment to deliver the most sustainable Games ever.

Besides a £7-million deal under which Dow is funding a fabric wrap for the Olympic stadium in east London, the company has a 10-year sponsorship arrangement with the International Olympic Committee estimated to be worth at least £100 million.

The deal has sparked protests. Noam Chomsky is among high-profile international figures, including British MPs and former Olympians, who have written to Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog), urging him to scrap the deal. Barry Gardiner, senior Labour MP and chairman of the Labour Friends of India, demanded a parliamentary inquiry.

Dow, which bought the Bhopal plant from Union Carbide after the gas tragedy, denies any liability. The Games' organisers have defended the decision to award the contract to Dow, saying it was taken after all the issues were “very carefully” considered.

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What Alexander Meredith did was a step to save HUMANITY from the profit making Union Carbide's worst Industrial Disaster out of callous neglicence and their Warren Andersen's Inhuman behaviour.I wonder how callous and indifferent was PM Rajiv Gandhi and HM PV Narsimha Rao who gave immunity for Warren Andersen to visit Bhopal and go back safely without being arrested.Later the PM PV Narsimha Rao diluted the case of Criminal Liability in 1996 and settled for $498 million US Dollars for the Inhuman Death of atleast 25,000 innocent, helpless civilian, poor people who were sleeping and died,from the Leak of poisonous Methyl Isocyanate Gas when inhaled.The victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy have not got their legitimate,ethical compensation for the horrible deaths and deformities of the poor slum people and 500,000 still suffering .The Union Congress Govt must get the correct compensation from Dow Chemicals which bought Union Carbide,otherwise our athletes should boycott the London Olympics 2012.

from:  naveen
Posted on: Jan 28, 2012 at 04:05 IST

Though she was part of the 12 commissioners who chose Dow Chemicals for sponsoring the wrap, as pointed out by the head of the LOCOG,she ultimately took a brave decision to resign as she couldn't come to terms with the London Olympic games 2012 having based itself on sustainability had no qualms in taking sponsorship from DC that has fully incorporated Union carbide,a company whose blatant disregard for safety and standard had led to a mammoth tragedy that took the lives of thousands of Indians, the terrible repercussions of which continue to this day. Dow chemicals denies any responsibility for those victims of the poison gas leak who died such horrible deaths or giving compensating to their families or cleaning up the hazardous site which continue to be source of pollution to this day. If only a disaster of this kind happened in any other western nation the company would've been decimated. The Indian gov's is expected to take a bold and principled stand in this regard.

from:  vyjayanthi
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 19:51 IST

Its now turn of Government of India to show some courageous step in response of Ms Meredith Alexander's act. A strong stand is needed in this regard.I sincerely admire the courage of Ms Alexander.Thanks for showing the path to rest of the world and making us believe that there still exists a ray of hope.

from:  Kumar Ramnikant
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 16:08 IST

Meridith Alexander's hitting the Oympics' patron,the controversial Dow Chemicals who is also the biological cousin of the infamous Union Carbide,below the waist, through her resigning from Ethics Committee, will go down in history. Dow's disowning of the liability of Union Carbide demontrates that its credibility has nosedived to nadir. Will the Olympics committee come forward to forego the purse of Dow Chemicals, stained with blood of thousands of gullible Indians, whose neglected corpses still are turing in their graves?

from:  C.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 13:59 IST

This one brave stand which probably people from India failed to take...somewhere
far away humanity is still alive.

from:  Vikrant Katoch
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 12:11 IST

Befitting ! Dow India had won CSR awards like Community Engagement Award 2009 from Enterprise Asia (enterpriseasia.org, now defunct which was a Malaysia based organisation). I wish journalists would investigate how these awards are set up and given on a platter, you can almost "buy" everything including reputation. The Ethics Committe member had good sense to reject sponsorship !

from:  Abhai
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 10:51 IST

Hats off to Meredith Alexander. What she has been able to do shows if one has conscience just actions follow. We Indians should be ashamed of what we have not done for the people. Indian Governments over the years have been mute spectators to this gross injustice.

from:  N Kumar
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 10:46 IST

We standup and salute you Madam!

from:  T.Subramanian
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 10:12 IST

Thanks to Hindu for highlighting this as front news! Did the Indian government even bother to protest? It is outrageous how this company was given a clean chit and is even
participating in high profile events.

from:  Amy
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 09:53 IST

This is the will and wisdom that our politicians, investigating agencies and judiciary lacks. A republic day gift for Indians from abroad. Thankful to Ms. Alexander.

from:  rahul
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 09:52 IST

It is indeed heartening to find out that more and more reasoned people at the international level are standing up for the cause. I sincerely believe that the day is not far when dow chemicals will be forced to own up it's part of responsibility.

from:  Biswajit
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 09:44 IST

One can only admire Ms Meredith Alexander ‘s courage in upholding high ethical and human values, interestingly something often displayed by ‘individual citizens’ in the British Society. The world is watching whether the British PM, the Mayor of London and the Chairman of LOCOG would show equally high standards, or fall prey to 'money above humanity'! Could the Govt of India publish a statement listing what it has done, since the disaster ocurred decades ago, to look after its citizens affected by arguably the greatest industrial tragedy affecting human lives the world has ever seen?

from:  alius nemo
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 08:23 IST

At least we still have some sane people, who are willing to stand up and
be counted. It is a shame for the "Commission for a Sustainable London
2012" they are at best a terrorist organisation and a blot and shame to
the international community

from:  Sardar Ram Singh
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 07:31 IST

It is a great tragedy that the London Olympics are sponsored by Dow Chemicals
which was responsible for the horrendous incident in Bhopal that led to the death of
thousands of people. It completely negates the ideals of the Olympic games and
make a mockery of it.

from:  Prasad
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 03:15 IST

Bravo, Lady!
You have done what many of us could not do here in India.
Hats off!

from:  Avi
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 23:42 IST
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