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Say No to Dow Chemicals

Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers,
Government of India
New Delhi.

3 December, 2007

Dear Sir/Madam:

We, the below-signed, are the alumni and students from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. We are writing to urge you to refuse any ties/associations of any kind with Dow Chemicals.

Dow Chemicals has been trying to foster relationship with IITs in order to gain legitimacy and credibility in the country. While not only does it have one of the worst environmental records, but also one of the most controversial histories in the corporate sector today.

You are probably aware that Union Carbide is a key accused in a criminal case related to the Bhopal disaster where the company is charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Since it did not honor the summons issued by the Bhopal court, it was declared an absconder in 1992. Dow Chemical has also failed to obey the law and is currently being challenged in the criminal court for sheltering a fugitive. Till date, it has failed to make Union Carbide - its 100 percent subsidiary - appear in court to face trial.

Aside from the disaster, Union Carbides reckless in its routine operations in the Bhopal factory have resulted in a massive groundwater contamination problem that has not been addressed till date. At least 10 governmental and non-governmental studies document and confirm the spread of toxic contamination. More than 25,000 people are forced to consume this contaminated water in the absence of any alternative. Tests carried out at IIT, Kanpur, by a New Delhi based fact finding mission on Bhopal showed the presence of toxic chemicals such as chloroform, chlorobenzenes, dichloromethane and heavy metals such as lead and mercury in the breast milk of mothers in these communities.

However, Union Carbide and Dow Chemical have refused to contribute towards clean-up of the contamination and groundwater. As owner of Union Carbide Corporation since 2001, Dow Chemical is responsible for the poisoning of ground water, soil and causing health damages to over 25, 000 people in Bhopal.

Dow Chemicals Poor track record in India and abroad is poor on various counts such as:

1. Earlier this year, the company was fined $325,000 by the US Securities Exchange Commission for having paid $200,000 in bribes to Agriculture Ministry officials for expediting the registration of three of its pesticides. One of the registered pesticides, Dursban (chlorpyriphos), is freely sold in India whereas it has been withdrawn from use in domestic settings in the US owing to its highly dangerous effects on the mental development of children. An enquiry by the Ministry and another by the Vigilance Commission is currently ongoing. Recently CBI raided offices of Dows a subsidiary and its consultants across the country for allegedly bribing Indian government officials to obtain a licence for its insecticide products.

2. In 2005, Indian Oil canceled a technology tie-up with Dow Global Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, because the company had attempted to sell a Union Carbide technology by passing it off as its own.

Dows poor track record, particularly with respect to Bhopal, has made it very unpopular, especially in the academic community.

1. In May 2005, more than 1300 IIT alumni intervened and forced the organizers of the Global IIT 2005 Conference to cancel the key note address by William Stavropoulos, the then CEO of Dow Chemical.

2. In December 2004, IIT-K organised an International Conference on process safety to avoid disasters like Bhopal- International Conference on 'Bhopal & its Effects on Process Safety' Dec 1-3, 2004

3. In March 2007, the University of California, Berkeley, returned a donation by Dow Chemical towards organizing the UC Berkeley Energy Symposium after students voted overwhelmingly against accepting funds from the tainted company.

4. In October 2007, more than 1000 alumni endorsed the petition urging IIT authorities to reject any association/relationship with Dow Chemical.
Hence we strongly urge you to reject any offer of tie ups/association of any kinds with Dow Chemicals whose only motive for any such offer is to gain credibility and legitimacy. By rejecting any offers made by the company, IIT will be sending a strong signal that it stands by principles of justice and ethics.

Thanking You,

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Harriet WebbBy:
Petition target:
IIT Kharagpur Chemincal Engineering Students


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