Abhinav Khare deep dives into the last chapter of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy that deals with the measures taken after the incident that considerably falls short of compensating for its catastrophic devastation
Following the disaster, the government of India issued an ordinance to become the sole representative of victims for the legal proceedings. The ordinance later got replaced by the Bhopal Gas Leak (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985, and then they filed a suit in New York against UCC. Lots of measures were taken for investigating the disaster but none of them were done whole-heartedly. As for UCC, they blamed the entire incident on a disgruntled employee and washed their hands off the case, while millions waited for justice.
After the May 1986 judgement by Judge Keenan, the case was shifted to India and UCC was asked to pay a sum of $5million as interim relief payment. The final settlement given by the Supreme Court of India was just a meagre amount of $470 million which roughly works out to only Rs 10,000 per victim if divided equally. The sad thing is, the same year, $4500 was spent on rehabilitation and rations of sea otters affected by the Alaska oil spill. The cost of lives of Indians are so much cheaper.
UCIL tried to shrug of their responsibilities by selling the 50.9% stakes in UCIL to Mc Leod Russell India Ltd., a company of the BM Khaitan Group. The then UCC chairman Warren Anderson was arrested on December 7, 1984 but was released six hours later on bail for a sum of just $2100 and was flown out of India on a government plane. The Bhopal court had summoned him in 1991 to appear on the charge of homicide in a criminal case, but he never turned up. Thereafter, there have been many a summons but none of them had been successful. People had failed to locate him. It was indeed surprising that the CEO of such a huge corporation went missing without anybody having any information.
The Bhopal Gas Tragedy till date is considered as the world's worst industrial disaster. Thousands died immediately and thousands face its wrath till today. It is worthwhile for us to take a step back and revisit this tragedy to take lessons from it that such is never repeated. This is the final chapter on this series on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
About Abhinav Khare
Abhinav Khare is the CEO of Asianet News Network and also the host of a daily show named Deep Dive with AK. He has a lifetime collection of books and gadgets and has already pinged more than hundred cities around the globe.
He is a tech entrepreneur, who is passionate about policy, technology, economy and philosophy from ancient India. He earned an MS Engineering from the ETH Zurich and an MBA Finance from the London Business School.
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Last Updated Nov 11, 2019, 7:24 PM IST