On Wednesday, April 25th, at the inaugural AGM of DowDuPont Inc, the world’s largest chemical corporation, recently formed with the merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont, shareholders were asked to vote on three resolutions referencing the Bhopal Disaster.
Each resolution expresses the concern of shareholders’ that the management of Dow Chemical has failed to handle its Bhopal liabilities correctly, causing harm to the company, which will now impact on the prospects of DowDuPont.
According to the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB):
“Voting demonstrated that DowDuPont shareowners holding almost $50 billion worth of shares agree that Company management is mishandling Bhopal. A full 38% of total shareholdings backed the proposal that special meetings be called with a 10% vote share. The basis of the proposal was that asset attachments orders and international injunctions – pending within civil and criminal cases on Bhopal – provide an imminent threat to DowDuPont. Until now, DowDuPont management has deliberately kept shareholders entirely in the dark about Bhopal, legal actions and the strength of resistance to the company investing in India. In 2016, prior to the final shareholder vote on the Dow-DuPont merger, the ICJB wrote to the DuPont and Dow Boards of Directors pointing out that omittance of these issues from regulatory filings appeared to be in breach of their essential fiduciary duty. Rather than informing shareholders, both boards took no action and gave no reply. Shareholders’ massive response to this blatant cover-up exposes Company management to acute pressure. It also opens the possibility of future derivatives lawsuits, given that Bhopal will continue to hit the Company’s bottom line for as long as survivors and their families are made to wait for adequate, substantive justice.”
Activist and actor, Martin Sheen, who starred in a 2014 movie based on events leading up to the original gas tragedy, joined investors and disaster survivors calling on DowDuPont to face up to its responsibilities:
“The Bhopal disaster is far from over – its impacts spread across multiple generations. Through no fault of their own, thousands of extremely poor families are left to struggle with lifelong illnesses… It beggars belief that even now, in 2018, DowDuPont managers continue to hide from their responsibilities as business leaders, and as human beings
A powerful speech, written by Rasheeda Bi, a former winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize and founder of the Chingari Trust Rehabilitation Centre was read out in support of the resolutions. Rasheeda’s words make plain the difficulties facing DowDuPont if it does not do the right thing in Bhopal.
On the same day, in another gesture of solidarity with the survivors, Environmental Communication students of Dr. Renu Pariyadath from USC Upstate, South Carolina US, staged a ‘Cube of Truth’ demonstration focused on the Bhopal Gas Disaster aiming to raise awareness about the ongoing contamination and related health and environmental issues.
The demonstration will feature as a part of their service learning project for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.