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Industrial infection
MNCs are hailed as national treasures but their devil-may-care attitude results in tragedies, making them global shame

globalisation is inevitable as we reside in ‘global village’. And the entities which benefit the most, perhaps, out of this phenomenon are modern day centres of affluence & influence – MNCs. As they profit and in the process, enhance employment and production, goes unnoticed is that their drive to profit, which leaves the rest in pain, is their lack of concern and efforts towards safe working of their industrial units, across the globe. While a McKinsey report has exemplified that cumulative market value of top 10 Fortune 500 companies is equal to combined GDP of India & Brazil or total forex reserve of six leading Gulf oil exporting countries in 2006, but their irresponsible, greedy & biased business policies and activities without considering people, environment & legal aspects, have brought apocalypse in form of fatal industrial accidents, environmental hazards, affecting millions in myriad other ways.

Start with Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984; which is the most horrifying industrial catastrophe in history, claiming between 3,000 and 20,000 lives, leaving thousands with serious diseases and injuries. The reaction of Dow Chemical, the global giant providing innovative chemical, plastic and agricultural products and services and responsible for this industrial catastrophe, publicly disowns its accountability. Moreover, it tried to console affected families with mere $300-$500. And when nearly 200 women protested against Dow for its meagre liability and for not really taking any proactive mechanisms to clean up the area stacked with dangerous toxic waste which spreads many gas related diseases in the small town Bhopal, it has sued them for raising voice against the company using it’s political, monetary & muscle power.

When an explosion and fire ruined a fireworks factory belonging to Bright Sparkles Sdn. Bhd. at Sungai Buloh, Malaysia in 1991, causing 22 deaths & injuring 103, Bright Sparkles remained lukewarm in helping victims and their families and compensating the environmental damages it has caused. What can be more traumatic and horrifying industrial accident than the phosgene, the lethal gas leak at Thailand petrochemical company Thai Polycarbonate Co. which has killed one and injured over hundreds. Shockingly, inspite of innumerable calls from many environmental activists of the locality to stop gas leakage which many had already identified, the accident could have been prevented; the company was reluctant to improve its pipelines.
And the fiery explosion with unstoppable fire and smoke at one of the largest oil refineries of British Petroleum in Texas City in 2005 is another example of shameless irresponsibility of global MNCs. Well, it was not the first such accident; BP has a record of fatal accidents, for last few decades. Moreover, it is the eighth largest polluter in the US, releasing over 5.1 million tonnes of pollutants with many harmful toxic gases like carcinogens causing serious health ill-effects to 30,000 people living within three mile radius. But while FBI investigation and imposition of new laws and fines continues, BP’s capability gradually sharpens to refuse or strive to escape from it. Nigeria witnessed the perfect misery out of corporate social irresponsibility. Companies like Shell, Exxonmobil & Chevron are reaping off nation’s oil industry but continue showing through negligence in improving environment, human life and the locality which have been affected by gas leakage and flares in their plants or refineries.

For MNCs, the planet has been served to be their playing-field but they have to follow rules of the game. Their profits cannot plunder people. How long will international community put up with their myopic vision and operations? The deemed-be-national-treasures actually prove to be global shame in neglecting their duties.

By:- Akram Hoque

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