Aug 30 2012 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
A POLITICIAN led a demonstration in his native India to shame the sponsors of the London Paralympics.
Navin Shah, Labour London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow and a Harrow councillor for Kenton East, held a banner at the head of a walking protest condemning the Dow Chemical Company’s patronage of the sporting spectacular for disabled athletes.
Their anger stems from the deaths and ongoing medical problems and birth defects blamed on a gas leak at a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, that was part-owned by Union Carbide Corporation, whose stock was bought by the Dow Chemical Company in 2001.
The demonstration involving Mr Shah took place in Bhopal, in central India, on Tuesday, at the same time as another outside the Houses of Parliament to coincide with the start of the 24-hour Paralympic torch relay.
Mr Shah said: “Dow Chemicals’ record is that of a massive betrayal of the victims of the Bhopal disaster and they should not be partners of these Paralympic Games.
“Children are being born disabled in Bhopal thanks to toxic waste that has still not been cleaned up after the disaster and Dow’s subsidiary Union Carbide is wanted in the Indian criminal courts for its role in this disaster, but Dow will not make them face justice. ”
Another critic of the deal between the American firm and the International Olympic Committee, Labour MP for Brent North, Barry Gardiner, said: “I have my ticket and am looking forward to the Paralympics but it is almost impossible to think of a less appropriate sponsor than Dow for the Paralympic Games.
“To the people of Vietnam or the victims of Bhopal, this is the equivalent of having Thalidomide sponsor the Paralympics.”
Dow's website said: "As an Official Worldwide Olympic Partner and the Official Chemistry Company of the Olympic Movement through to 2020,Dow works closely with the organizations that bring the Games to life by providing the expertise to ensure a more sustainable future.
"Dow’s partnership with the Olympic Games also allows the company to demonstrate the significant role chemistry plays in athletics and in everyday life."
The official Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) website about the Bhopal disaster says: "UCC had settled all civil claims related to the gas release with the Government of India and was no longer doing business in India when Dow acquired its shares in 2001. Dow did not inherit any liability from UCC."