Organisations representing the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy protested in New Delhi against the Dow Chemical Company sponsorship of the Live Earth Run for Water. They were supported by Amnesty International. The organisers of the Live Earth Run for Water in New Delhi turned out to be a group of Bhopal activists posing as the fictitious Hindustan Sea Turtle Alliance (HASTA).
Dow Chemical has consistently maintained that they do not hold accountability for the disaster, having bought the responsible company, Union Carbide, many years after the toxic gas leak.
But many environmental groups are adamant that they remain responsible for the ongoing horrific consequences of the disaster.
In New Delhi social activist Satinath Sarang said: “Today all over the world, Live Earth is organizing a run for water. This event, which is supposed to address the global water crisis, ironically is being sponsored by Dow Chemicals, which is one of the greatest polluters on earth and one of the big reasons why there is a water crisis today. To start with, Dow Chemical is responsible for the poison in the ground water and soil in Bhopal that is causing cancer and birth defect and damage to the liver, kidneys and brain in Bhopal.”
Amnesty International: Dow cannot run from the legacy of Bhopal
Amnesty International works in partnership with organisations such as The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal to help support survivors and activists to demand justice, accountability and an end to 25 years of human rights violations.
Their campaign for adequate clean-up, access to clean water and proper medical care, compensation and accountability has seen survivors and supporter groups, including children and people with disabilities, repeatedly make the 800-kilometre march from Bhopal to New Delhi.
More than 100 Bhopal survivors launched an indefinite protest in New Delhi on 16 April 2010, urging the Indian government to resolve the liabilities in Bhopal.
“Sponsoring an event that highlights water scarcity while ignoring ongoing problems with access to clean water and medical care, amongst other issues, in Bhopal is at best hypocrisy, at worst, a flagrant attempt by Dow to try to white-wash its image,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International. “Dow may be trying to run away from the legacy of Bhopal, but it can’t be allowed to hide behind sponsorship of ‘Run for Water’ events.”
On 26 March 2010 Amnesty International wrote to Live Earth to express concern about Dow’s involvement in the “Run for Water” events. Amnesty has not received a response to that letter.
Nearly 900 people have so far signed a petition of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal requesting Live Earth to dissociate itself from Dow.
Bhopal Groups Subvert Dow-funded Live Earth Run for Water in Delhi
Participants who had registered for the Dow Live Earth Run for Water in New Delhi found that the event had been transformed into the Bhopal Walk for Water. The Hindustan Sea Turtle Alliance (HASTA), which had officially registered to organise the run in New Delhi, revealed that they were a “fictitious group set up to expose the global event as Dow Chemical’s attempt to sidestep its legal responsibilities by engaging in greenwash”.
“We are doing this to expose the irony of Dow sponsoring a global awareness campaign on water scarcity, even while it is being called upon by communities from Bhopal to Michigan to clean up precious water resources damaged by Dow’s activities,” said Rachna Dhingra of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Featuring a fortune-teller, snake charmer, juggler, magician and other lively communicators, the Bhopal Walk for Water took visitors through “a colourful multimedia display of Dow Chemical’s skills in jugglery, magic, handling poisons and even certain dark arts”.
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See also: India, Bhopal: bottled water stunt targets Dow ‘greenwashing’, WASH news Asia & Pacific, 23 Jul 2009
Source: NDTV, 19 Apr 2010 ; Amnesty International, 16 Apr 2010 ; International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal