London: US-chemical giant Dow's high-profile contract with 2012 London Olympics denigrates the suffering of the survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy who are still awaiting justice even after 27 years, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

Dow Chemical Company has been granted a contract to provide a decorative fabric wrap to encircle London's Olympic stadium during the next year's Games.

In an open letter, Amnesty said the contract to Dow was "shocking" and a "slap in the face" of survivors of the gas disaster.

In the letter to the Organising Committee, Seema Joshi, Amnesty International's Head of Business and Human Rights, said, "The Olympic Committee's guidelines on sustainable
sourcing are meant to place a high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues when procuring material for the Games.

"In light of these principles, it is shocking to find out that it has granted such a high profile
contract to a firm which has failed to address one of the worst corporate related human rights disasters of the 20th century. We feel that this denigrates the suffering of Bhopal’s survivors, and their long struggle for justice," she added.

Responding to criticism by Amnesty International, the London 2012 Olympics committee today said it had confirmed that the Dow Chemical Company – which has been awarded the
contract for a decorative fabric wrap during the Olympics – did not own or operate the Bhopal facility during the 1984 disaster.

A spokesman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) said, "Public funding was removed in November 2010 and in February 2011, LOCOG put out an open tender for the provision of the wrap.

Following a competitive process, Dow was appointed in August 2011. All of our suppliers must work within our own sustainable sourcing code and reflect our values and sustainability requirements."

"We asked Dow for, and received, a full briefing on the history of the 1984 Union Carbide Bhopal Gas tragedy and details of ongoing litigation. From this briefing we have confirmed that Dow never owned or operated the facility in Bhopal and remediation is under the control of the courts in India," he added.

Dow Chemical, which was a partner of the International Olympic Committee long before the 'wrap' announcement was made, and took over Union Carbide in 2001, long after the 1984
Bhopal gas leak, says it cannot be held responsible for mistakes in the past.

As part of the sponsorship, Dow Chemical will produce a fabric 'wrap' around the main stadium. It is supposed to be ‘sustainable’ with resins made by Dow's Performance Plastics Division.

It is said to be 35 per cent lighter and have a lower carbon footprint compared with conventional materials.

The Dow Chemical-sponsored 'wrap' will comprise of 336 individual panels – each approximately 25 metres high and 2.5 metres wide.

According to the organisers, it will "help the stadium become the visual centre piece of the Olympic Park". Installation is to be completed by spring 2012.


(Agencies)