Protests force CM to order halt to Dow project work in Maharashtra

Vilasrao DeshmukhMumbai: Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has ordered the Dow Chemical project at Shinde Vasuli, near Chakan, about 25 km from Pune, to stop work for a month, following intesified agitation against the project by local people.

The chief minister, who is currently on a European tour, took the decision keeping in mind the demand by followers of the Warkari sect and environmental activists to abandon the project, which, they claim, would pollute a nearby river and the entire area around the project.

The state government has also decided to appoint a committee headed by a former high court judge to study the objections to the project. The panel is expected to submit a report within a month.

Dow Chemicals and the government authorities say the company is setting up an R&D unit and have ruled out scope for pollution as no commercial production will be undertaken there.

While an R&D unit can cause greater damage to the environment than a production unit that uses proven technology, opponents of the project point out that the company has sought 100 acres of land, enough for setting up several production facilities.

''We do not want the polluting unit here and will not rest till it is wound up,'' former Bombay High Court judge B G Kolse Patil, who is leading the agitation, said.