Dow Chemicals was trying to build a chemical Research & Development (R&D) unit near Pune, India. The initial investment was $100 million for global research in new industrial materials, in addition to study in its traditional areas of chemicals and engineering .
Based on Right To Information documents obtained from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, a Pune-based organisation has found that Dow has been given consent to use 20 chemicals, listed as hazardous (in the Schedule I of the manufacture, storage and import of hazardous chemical rules) under the Environment Protection Act, 1980 .
The project initiate controversy as local residents, mostly from the Warkari sect, had opposed the company s presence in the village saying it will pollute drinking water and farm land in the surrounding areas. Villagers were not convinced by the assurance by the company that the facilities will only be a research and development facility and there were no plans to manufacturing units .
In January 2008, angry villagers stopped construction. In July, 2008 when the company attempted to restart construction with police protection, local villagers (Warkaris) entered the site and demolished the construction . The company, therefore, discontinued construction work in September 2008 . The company moved a petition in the Bombay High Court in October 2010 stating that it was withdrawing its project due to the protest by villagers. The company had surrendered the 100 acre land to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and withdrawn from the project. .
The US chemical multinational is the owner of Union Carbide, responsible for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy in which several thousand people were killed due to the release of 40 tonnes of deadly methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas. This issue raises concern among the local villagers .