New Delhi: India has no plan to ban Dow Chemicals in the country while the due process of law will be followed in fixing civil and criminal liabilities of the firm in the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster.
"There is no proposal to blacklist and ban the entry of Union Carbide, which is now called Dow Chemicals in the country," Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Srikant Kumar Jena said on Thursday.
"No such proposal is under the consideration of the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals," the minister told the Lok Sabha in a written reply to a question on the future of Dow Chemicals in India.
Twenty-five years ago, on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, at least 3,500 people died instantly and many hundreds later after a deadly gas leaked from the Union Carbide`s pesticide plant in Bhopal.
Union Carbide was subsequently acquired by Dow Chemicals.
Jena said the government has sought expeditious fixation of Dow Chemicals` liabilities in the disaster from the Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, which is hearing since 2004 a public interest lawsuit on the issue of environmental remediation of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) plant site.
He said, "An affidavit has been filed by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals on July 15 this year, requesting the high court to expeditiously decide the question of liability of Dow Chemicals and others."
The "others" against whom the lawsuit has been filed include UCIL, Union Carbide Corporation, US, and Eveready Industries India Limited.
The minister said the government earlier in May 2005 had filed an application before the High Court seeking its direction to all the respondents, including Dow Chemicals, US, and Union Carbide Corporation, to pay for the environmental remediation of the UCIL plant site.
India made its stand clear on Dow Chemicals in the Lok Sabha a day after news reports said that the government was facing pressure from the US to go soft on the US multinational.
The reports had it that US Deputy National Security Advisor Micheal Froman sought to link US investment in India to the latter`s stand on Dow Chemicals.