Dow Chemical's Indian R&D centre plan faces social boycott

Mumbai: Dow Chemical Co, the new owner of the infamous Union Carbide, is planning a comeback by setting up a research and development centre in India, but is facing stiff opposition from social groups and prospective employees.

Dow has offered to invest $100 million (about Rs400 crore) in a global R&D centre in India. The company has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Maharashtra government, reports said.

Dow is planning to shut a number of plants in the US and shift production to India and other low-cost locations, to cut costs.

Union Carbide that caused the death of over 5,000 and left several thousands permanently disabled in the Bhopal gas tragedy was declared an absconder by a court in Bhopal in 1991. The company was taken over by Dow Chemicals in 2001. Dow has refused to produce Union Carbide in court, even while providing an avenue for Carbide to continue profiting from sales in the Indian market without threat of arrest.

With the help of industry leaders like Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, Dow has managed to win the favour of the Prime Minister's Office, which has promised to write off Dow's liabilities in Bhopal if the company invests heavily in India.

The company, however, is now facing social boycott in the country.