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Dow Chemicals R&D unit, Pune, India


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 [1].

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 [2].

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 [1].

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 [3]. The company, therefore, discontinued construction work in September 2008 [1]. 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 The company had surrendered the 100 acre land to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and withdrawn from the project. [3].

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 [4].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Dow Chemicals R&D unit, Pune, India
State or province:Maharashtra
(municipality or city/town)Chakan, Alandi and Khed, Pune
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Chemical industries
Specific commodities:
Chemical products

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC)a Maharashtra government organization had given about 40 hectare (ha) of grazing land to Dow Chemicals for a research and development facility in Shendi village, 30 km from Pune [2].

The initial investment was about Rs 400-crore (Rs 4 billion) to carry out R&D for the company.

Project area:40
Level of Investment:100,000,000
Type of populationRural
Company names or state enterprises:Dow Chemical Company from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Religious groups
The group campaign for justice for victims of the Bhopal Gas leak disaster [6]. Yuva Bharat, one of the organizations at the forefront of the agitation [7].
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The issue became politically contentious, the state government was forced to put a stay on the project and set up a panel under a former high court judge to probe the villagers’ allegations. Dow Chemical Co wrote to MIDC asking to surrender the land at Chakan for their proposed R & D centre. The company was considering alternative site in the state. The project was abandoned and the land was returned because of protests[5,6].

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

(Department of Environment, Forest and Wildlife)



Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] Pune villages protest at Dow research facility

[1 ] Dow quashes Chakan research plan

[3] Dow Chemical moves Bombay HC to shift Pune R&D project

[4] Work halted at Dow Chemicals unit after protests near Pune

[5] Dow Chemicals’ project to be shifted out of Pune

[6] River ‘god’ throws out Dow from Pune

Protests halt work at Dows $102m India R&D site

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Dow Chemicals Pune plant demolished by warkaris

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update08/04/2014