Double Standard
In the United States Dow submits unquestioningly to government agencies and courts seeking to enforce laws and standards. For instance, in 2005 a Dow joint-venture pled guilty and paid an $84 million criminal fine for participating in an international conspiracy to fix the prices of synthetic rubber in violation of the Sherman Act.

For India, where Dow subsidiary is accused of “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” for the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people in Bhopal, Dow has ignored six separate summonses to appear in the court’s proceedings.

After merging with Dupont , Dow was responsible for 171 different Superfund sites in the US, sites at which ‘Polluter Pays’ principles are enforced against originators of environmental contamination. The largest of these concerns clean up of the Tittabawassee river & Saginaw river around Midland, Michigan, where Dow is headquartered, for which Dow recently paid $77 million “to compensate the public for injuries to natural resources”.

However, in Bhopal, where Union Carbide imported polluting manufacturing technology, designed polluting waste disposal methods, monitored resulting leaks and conducted secret tests that showed lethal poisons were in soil and water next to community housing, yet warned no one, Dow has refused to take responsibility for the clean-up of the Bhopal site.

Dow donated water filtrations systems and over $100,000 in aid to Flint, Michigan, in response to its 2014 water crisis in which nearly 12,000 children were exposed to heavy metals in their drinking water.
But in Bhopal, Dow says the contaminated water near the UCIL plant site, where mercury, cancer-causing and mutagenic chemicals are found in the breast milk of nursing mothers and more than 50,000 children are at risk, is not its responsibility.

Growth and Destruction

This has reference to the editorial "Growth and Destruction" (Frontier, December 19-25, 2021). Whereas the editorial has more or less listed various factors causing Climate Change (although it has missed few of the critical factors such as the abuse of natural elements, unsustainable demand for materials and energy, lifestyle issues etc.). it has also missed a good opportunity to emphasise on the remedies.

Although many such articles and editorials have referred to Climate Change in the recent past, we all know that the authorities have not given much credence to such societal levels of concern. There is no reason now to believe that the present editorial will be given any attention by the same authorities. However, such editorials can be of use to the common man if they can focus on remedial measures. Civil society can certainly adopt some, if not all the measures. It also can put pressure on the authorities either directly or indirectly to take effective measures, if people know what to do.

In this context, it will be useful if your editorial provides focus as to what civil society can do starting with individuals, families, communities, states, regions and nation. You may appreciate that there is a lot we, as individuals, can do to minimise the demand for materials and energy, and thereby we can put pressure on the govt. to implement suitable and effectively enabling policies at the national and international levels.
Shankar Sharma
Power & Climate Policy Analyst
Anugraha, Vijayanagar, Karnataka

Anti-Jindal Movement
The Odisha state government run by Mr Nabin Patnaik is making brutal police action against the people in order to hand over about 2900 acres of fertile agricultural land to the ruthless Indian steel major Jindal Steel led by industrialist Sajjan Jindal. After POSCO fiasco which ended by 2015-2016, JSW Utkal Steel Ltd came with its proposal to build 13.2 MTPA crude steel, 900MW captive power and 10 MTPA cement along with 52 MTPA Captive Jetty at the same place.

All these are happening without prior consent of the people and Gram Sabhas, and without following statutory legal procedures. The corporate forces have their clout over government of India as well the state government, so permission for any project is not a problem for them.

Around 2pm on 20th December, 2021, the villagers of Dhinkia made a massive demonstration against the state and police repression at Mahala village border. Suddenly the police came in seven Bolero vans and entered into Dhinkia village from back side and started thrashing and beating people. The police came to arrest the movement leader Mr Debendra Swain. They picked up his paternal uncle, Ayodhya Swain aged 71, who is a paralytic patient and his 22-year-old daughter Mili Swain. The police slapped false charges against them under Indian Penal Code Sections: 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 294 (use of obscene language), 427 (mischief causing damage), 506 (criminal intimidation). They did not even spare one passerby who asked them the reason for dragging the father-daughter duo out of their house. The police assaulted women and children after entering the village in the name of searching some accused persons.

 Villagers are facing hardships due to the police action. The situation has come to such a pass that the villagers are being asked to show their Aadhar cards to go out and enter their village. The police have been raiding the village, breaking into houses, attacking the villagers causing injuries, implicating people in false cases and restricting them to their houses.

People have been witnessing tensions since December 1, 2021 when the local administration officials who had gone to “Mahala” village for forceful demarcation of a revenue village.Villagers , however, vehemently protested against the illegal move. People have long been opposing the bifurcation of the village. The State government is playing a ‘divide and rule’ policy to pave the way for JSWL. In addition to the existing police deployment, four additional platoons have been stationed in the area to terrorise people. The atmosphere in the area still remains tense.
Prashant Paikray
Spokesperson, Anti-Jindal & Anti-POSCO Movement, Odisha, India

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Vol 54, No. 28, Jan 9 - 15, 2022