Bhopal, nuke liability bill are separate issues: Sharma



Washington: The 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy did not cast a shadow on the deliberations of the India-US CEOs Forum to enhance India-US business ties, according to Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma.

"The subject never came up," he told reporters Wednesday. "It's a matter which is sub judice back home. And it's not a subject to come up at these forums."

When reminded that a Group of Ministers (GoM) in India had discussed the issue, Sharma said, "The GoM is not meant for this country. We don't discuss it outside when we have not discussed it within our own system."

Sharma, who was part of the official delegation to the CEOs forum, also asserted that issues surrounding the liability of Union Carbide, which owned the Bhopal plant, would affect the civil nuclear liability legislation to facilitate India-US nuclear trade.

"They are two different issues," he said. "There are defined laws. The criminal, corporate and civil liabilities are very much defined in the laws of both countries."

Asked how come an issue that had caused so much furore in India and led to demands for revisiting the nuclear liability bill did not come up either at the forum or in his meetings with US officials, Sharma repeated: "It never came up. In none of my interactions, I didn't raise it. Nor did my interlocutors."

Bureau Reporters