London Olympics ethics commissioner quits

London/Bhopal: The row over Dow Chemical`s sponsorship of 2012 London Olympics escalated thursday with a commissioner of an ethics watchdog for the mega sporting event resigning over the multinational`s links to the Bhopal gas disaster.

An enraged Meredith Alexander said she is quitting as Sustainability Commissioner to the London Olympics to bring attention to the "toxic legacy" of Bhopal. India is strongly opposed to Dow`s involvement with the Games due to start in July.

Indian NGOs working with the survivors of the gas leak welcomed Alexander`s decision.

Sathinath Sarangi, a social activist, said her decision was a "welcome step." "We congratulate Meredith for showing that people with conscience are still there. Indeed she has spoken the truth about Dow," he said in Bhopal. Sarangi hoped that the Indian government and the Indian Olympic Association(IOA) will put more "strength" to their protest.

In her statement in London, Alexander said, "I don`t want to be party to a defence of Dow Chemicals, the company responsible for one of the worst corporate human rights violations in my generation. It is appalling that 27 years on, the site has still not been cleaned up and thousands upon thousands of people are still suffering." "I believe people should be free to enjoy London 2012 without this toxic legacy on their conscience," she added.

Alexander is one of the 13 commissioners in the body monitoring the London Olympics and it is an unpaid position.

Alexander, head of trade and corporates at the charity Action Aid, told the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 that she could no longer remain in the unpaid post given LOCOG`s refusal to end the association.

"I think the responsible thing to do would be for Dow to withdraw from the wrap contract. Otherwise London 2012 is undermining its aim to be the most sustainable Games ever and showing contempt for the Bhopal victims," she said.

Dow is now the parent company of Union Carbide, whose pesticide plant leaked gas into Bhopal in 1984, killing tens of thousands of people in the world`s worst industrial accident. "I feel I was part of a lobby which legitimised Dow`s claims that it had no responsibility for Bhopal. This is an iconic case…I just could not stand idly by," Alexander told BBC.

Stating that she was resigning on principle, Alexander said to be part of a body that publicly endorsed Dow is "untenable and unacceptable"

The London Olympics organisers LOCOG said in December that Dow`s name would not be on the wrap during the Games or on five `test` panels either.

Welcoming Alexander`s decision, Amnesty International said the London Olympic organisers must admit their mistake in awarding the lucrative seven million pound contract to the Dow Chemical Company.

Dow is a major sponsor of both the London Games and the International Olympic Committee, and has stepped in to fund a high-tech "wrap" around the stadium. The company said last week that it would not withdraw its Olympic sponsorship despite the furore over its involvement.

Alexander was appointed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson to monitor the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).