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The Bhopal Gas Tragedy is known for being one of the worst industrial disasters to take place in India. It was a gas leakage incident that took place on 2nd and 3rd December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) which was a pesticide plant located in the capital of Madhya Pradesh that is Bhopal.
Over 5, 00,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate and other chemicals. Due to this gas leakage incident about 8000 people lost their lives within two weeks of the incident and other 8000 people died because of the after effects of the gas leakage and related diseases. It was one of the deadliest gas leakage incidents to have taken place in India. The cause of the disaster is still unknown and remains debatable.
TIMELINE OF THE BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY CASE
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE COUNSEL IN THE BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY CASE
The CBI counsel C Sahay told the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Mohan P Tiwari that an expert team from Union Carbide Corporation, USA, surveyed the UCIL in 1982 and found serious safety and maintenance lapses on nearly ten count, and that even after UCC experts’ team visit, adequate safety measures and maintenance work did not take place in UCIL, Bhopal from where a toxic gas leak in 1984 caused world’s worst industrial disaster. This clearly indicated the fault on UCIL’s part and it was expected that the judgment would be in favor of Union of India.
COMPENSATION AWARDED IN THE BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY CASE
The government had filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court in December 2010, seeking enhanced compensation calculated on the basis of higher number of victims than the number considered earlier. The company had made a settlement of US $470 million (Rs750 crore) for all the victims. The government has asked for Rs7,413 crore. The settlement was based on the earlier figure of 3,000 deaths and 70,000 injury cases; the curative petition has put the death numbers at 5,295 and injury figure at 527,894. The victims of the tragedy, on the basis of a report of Indian Council of Medical Research, say the actual death figure is five times higher than the figure quoted in the curative petition and that most of the injuries were of permanent nature and not temporary as stated by the government in the petition.
THE CURRENT STATUS OF BHOPAL GAS PLANT
The functioning of the Plant is at halt and the area of the factory is not usable at all, till the time its effect is gone. The waste present there cannot be touched and is still considered to be dangerous. Anything plucked from that place can still cause harm; such was the intensity of that industrial disaster. The land of factory is not useable in current scenario. Also, it’s not easy to make that site useable again since firstly the entire soil & factory building material needs to be replaced and also the chemically affected soil has to be disposed off which is a tough task .
 Union Carbide Corporation vs Union Of India, 1990 AIR 273, 1989 SCC (2) 540
Published by Shruti Singh, Legal Intern at Legal Desire