Bhopal verdict – 25 years later! Where is the justice? However BP attacked now
On 3rd December 1984, the population of Bhopal was exposed to 40 tons of highly toxic methyl isocyanate gas released from a Union Carbide plant killing thousands of residents of the city, causing injury to hundreds of thousands and inflicting genetic damage on an unknown number of future generations. It has taken 25 years for the prosecution to come to light and only 8 Union Carbide employees, one of who has died of natural causes, were tried in the local courts of Bhopal resulting in prison sentences and fines.
Warren Anderson, who is the CEO of Union Carbide, is now a fugitive from the Indian authorities. In the meantime, responsibility for cleaning up the toxic chemicals still contaminating the groundwater of Bhopal is yet to be established.
By contrast, in the US on 20th April 2010, a deepwater oil rig exploded and sank off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers and contaminating the coastal water and threatening the health and lives of hundreds of people in three states of the USA.
How has President Obama contributed to the clear up? Within just 8 weeks of the demand the following has been put into place:-
1. BP has agreed to create a $100 million fund to compensate oil rig workers now unemployed as a result of closure of other deep-water rigs after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, Obama said “The fund will not supersede individuals’ or states’ rights to present claims in court, BP, will remain liable for the environmental disaster in the Gulf.”
2. An escrow for $20 million fund for the clear up
3. Not to pay any further dividends this year.
4. Possible prosecution of BP
It seems that when it comes to multinational companies involved in major pollution incidents that take place in the West and similar US companies operating in third world countries which wipe out a huge population, there is a striking contrast in the remedies offered.
The up side of this all is that the US President and now the UK Prime Minister are both ready to help BP do all it can to deal with the situation. But if the US and UK Government are readily assisting the multi-billion pound company deal with its pollution of US territory, where is the support in helping the citizens of India? The Bhopal activists are planning to file a writ petition in the Higher Court of India to admit more charges against Union Carbide and the CEO, seeking an unspecified amount (no doubt in the billions) for damages in personal injury, damage to their property and to clean up their mess.
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