India: Bhopal Gas Tragedy Verdict - too little too late?


On the night of December 2-3, 1984, India woke up to its worst industrial disaster when tonnes of the deadly methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins leaked from a Union Carbide (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, resulting in large-scale exposure, thousands of deaths and maiming many more thousands for life.

More than 25 years later, a court in Bhopal has pronounced a guilty verdict on the Indian arm of Union Carbide and also convicted 8 former UCIL officials (all Indians) as being guilty under Sections 304-A (causing death by negligence), 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 336, 337 and 338 (gross negligence) of the Indian Penal Code. They were each sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and a fine of INR100,000 (approx. USD 2097). UCIL has been awarded a fine of INR500,000 (approx. USD 10,483).

However, there was no mention in the verdict of Warren Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation who skipped bail, fled the country and has been declared an absconder after he refused to return to India from the US and stand trial.

There had been a lot of speculation and anticipation since morning as people waited for a verdict that most Indians feel has come too late to offer succor and closure for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims. Twitter was abuzz with comments that reflected the people's mood - which ranged from hopeful to sceptic.