15 Jun 2010

Bhopal still denied justice

I read last week SchNEWS an update on the Bhopal gas tragedy - 26 years ago the tragedy killed 3,000 immediately when toxic chemicals stored at its pesticide factory were contaminated and led to deadly gases escaping - in the aftermath over 35,000 have died and half a million have suffered serious health problems. A paltry $470 million was paid out by Union Carbide 20 years ago.

Photo: Bhopal trial - see BBC report here

Well now finally seven officials of Union Carbide India Ltd, including the former chairman, have just been convicted and sentenced to a maximum of two years imprisonment. Well that doesn't sound much like justice but wait to hear this.....

All of them were released on bail the same day. Hey and wait 'till you hear about the fines - Rs.101,750 (about £1500) were handed out to the 7 UCIL officials, with Union Carbide India Ltd (now Eveready Industries India Ltd) being fined Rs.5,000,000 (£7300)!! Bhopal survivors will now take their case in higher courts.
'We feel outraged and betrayed. This is not justice. This is a travesty of justice. The paltry sentencing is a slap in the face of suffering Bhopal victims.' Hazra Bee of International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
SchNEWS say that in 1996, a judge diluted the charges against the Indians accused, resulting in the two rather than ten year sentences, with the India's Central Bureau of Investigation failing to act against this dubious ruling. The CBI have likewise failed to act in the six years since a Bhopali magistrate served notice on Dow Chemicals USA to produce its Union Carbide subsidiary in court. An ex-CBI boss has come clean about its protection of corporate murderer Anderson. Former Joint Director B. R. Lall, who was the senior officer in charge of the Bhopal investigation in the mid 90s, went on Indian TV to reveal that the CBI, which is run out of an obscure department headed by the Prime Minister, received a written communication from the Ministry of External Affairs instructing it not to proceed with the extradition of Warren Anderson. 'CBI investigation was influenced and commanded by some officials, as a result the justice in the Bhopal Gas leakage case got delayed, hence, denied.'
'There is documentary evidence that Union Carbide, USA and Anderson knew that the Bhopal plant design was based on 'untested technology', they were in full control over operations and safety of the factory and it is they who directed reckless cost-cutting. Justice cannot be done in Bhopal till these principal accused are brought to trial.' Rashida Bee who lost six people in her family due to the disaster.
Info taken from SchNEWS here - See also www.bhopal.net and my previous blog on this here.

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