Eastern Eye (UK)

Court rejects plea for higher payout

- SASTROUS Victims of hopal tragedy seen in ecember 1984

INDIA’S Supreme Court on Tuesday (14) rejected the government’s plea seeking more compensati­on from Union Carbide Corporatio­n for victims of a gas leak in the central Indian city of Bhopal that resulted in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

In the early hours of December 3, 1984, methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a pesticide factory, owned by the American company, in the state capital of Madhya Pradesh. More than half a million people were poisoned that night and the official death toll exceeded 5,000.

Following the disaster, the government sued Union Carbide and the company agreed to pay an out-of-court settlement of $470 million in damages in 1989.

The government approached the country’s top court in 2010 seeking enhanced compensati­on for the victims.

Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide, denied liability, saying it bought the company a decade after Union Carbide settled its liabilitie­s with the Indian government.

“We believe this would not be the appropriat­e course of action or method to impose a greater liability on the UCC (Union Carbide) than it initially agreed to bear,” the fivejudge bench said in its judgement dismissing the petition.

“We are equally dissatisfi­ed with the Union of India for being unable to furnish any rationale for raking up this issue more than two decades after the incident.”

Built in 1969, the Union Carbide plant was seen as a symbol of industrial­isation in India, generating thousands of jobs for the poor and, at the same time, manufactur­ing cheap pesticides for millions of farmers. Thousands of survivors of the tragedy have said they, their children and grandchild­ren are still struggling with chronic health problems as a result of the leak and toxic waste left behind.

 ?? ?? © STR/AFP via Getty Images
© STR/AFP via Getty Images

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