By Duncan Mackay

Dow Chemical_Olympic_launchDecember 5 - The Indian Government have asked the country's National Olympic committee to raise the issue of the sponsorship deal between London 2012 and Dow Chemical but have categorically ruled out any boycott of the Olympics.

Protests were held at the weekend to coincide with the 27th anniversary of the disaster in Bhopal where a Union Carbide pesticide plant leaked lethal gas that killed an estimated 15,000 people and maimed tens of thousands more.

An effigy of Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, was burnt in the street during the demonstrations.

"We have written a letter to the IOA (Indian Olympic Association), asking them to take up the matter with the organisers of the London Olympics," said spokesman for the Sports Ministry.

The IOA responded by promising to raise the matter with London 2012 and making them aware of the unease in India at the deal for Dow Chemical to sponsor the £7 million ($11 million/€8 million) wrap around the Olympic Stadium.

London 2012_Olympic_Stadium_with_wrap_August_4_2011
"We will try to make Games organisers aware of the feeling of the people who have suffered due to that tragedy," said Vijay Kumar Malhotra, acting President of the IOA.

"It is not only Indians who are protesting this sponsorship, there has been an outcry against this the world over from various NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) and other bodies.

"It is no longer a local issue."

Dow, who became a worldwide Olympic sponsor earlier this year, bought Union Carbide in 2001 and has always maintained that legal claims regarding the gas leak were resolved when Union Carbide paid $470 million (£310 million/€351 million) as compensation for those killed or injured.

The Indian Government is seeking an additional $1.1 billion (£707 million/€822 million) for the victims from Union Carbide, and activists accuse Dow of not cleaning up contamination in Bhopal.

Calls for a boycott are being led by Shivraj Singh Chauhanis, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, where Bhopal is the provincial capital. 

He wrote letter last week to Sports Minister Ajay Maken, requesting him to boycott the Games.

But the Sports Ministry spokesman made it clear that India will compete at London next year.

"There is no question of boycotting the Games of course," he said.

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