No closure, no justice for Bhopal victims: CSE

Thirty years after the Bhopal gas tragedy, there has been no closure, justice still evades the victims while the disaster remains a continuing tragedy, environmental activist Sunita Narain said Monday.

New Delhi: Thirty years after the Bhopal gas tragedy, there has been no closure, justice still evades the victims while the disaster remains a continuing tragedy, environmental activist Sunita Narain said Monday.

At a public gathering to mark the tragedy, Narain said: "Thirty years later, there is no closure. Somebody has to go to jail for Bhopal."

Other panelists at the meeting organised by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said India requires an institutional framework that ensures room for corporate liability and responsibility to decontaminate the site of the tragedy that is still a source of poor health for the residents of Bhopal.

The gas tragedy, often referred to as one of the world's worst industrial disasters, claimed thousands of lives and caused lifelong serious health issues to 5.5 lakh people, according to official records.

The tragedy that struck the Madhya Pradesh capital on the intervening nights of Dec 2 and 3, 1984, was caused by a gas leak in a factory owned by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL).

India improved its legislations for chemical industrial disasters and worker safety, but it is an unfinished business, Narain said.

The then CEO and chairperson of UCIL Warren Anderson, who recently died in the US, was declared absconding by the then Congress government and was never brought to book thereafter.

No investigation was ever conducted into the cause of what triggered the gas leak, said Supreme Court advocate Indira Jaisingh who also represented the gas tragedy victims.

Thirty years later, environmentalists and social activists demanded that Dow Chemicals that bought UCIL pay compensation to the victims and survivors of the tragedy along with owning up responsibility to decontaminate the soil and groundwater at the factory site, which remains a breeding ground for health issues due to toxic waste.

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