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+ the children's protest +


18 OCTOBER 2002





At the Bhopal Magistrates Court, which reconvened yesterday for the first time since dramatically rejecting a bid to reduce charges against chief accused Warren Anderson, schoolchildren from the gas-affected areas of Bhopal came out to leave the CBI's lawyers in no doubt of what the city's people want.
     "Jhaadoo Maaro Dow Ko!", they shouted. "Beat Dow with brooms!"
     A CBI official informed the Judge, Chief Magistrate Rameshwar Kothe, that the Court's arrest warrant against Warren Anderson, former CEO of Union Carbide, who is Accused No 1, had been translated from Hindi into English and handed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so that extradition proceedings could begin.

       The children were not impressed by vague promises. "We have heard from our mothers and grandmothers what happened here. Many people are sick. We think the people who were responsible should be punished," said Bharati, 11.
     "If this happened in America," said Shekhar, 12, "the big boss Anderson would be in prison."

     Inside, the Court was hearing from Rajendra Singh Pundheer [RSP], Former Production Assistant at the Sevin Unit of the Union Carbide plant.

T.P. Singh (Prosecuting Counsel): When did you work in UCIL, Bhopal?
RSP: From 1972 to 1984.
TPS: Did UCIL, Bhopal provide you with any technical training?
RSP: No.
TPS: At which post did you work?
RSP: I was Production Assistant in the Sevin Unit
TPS: What were your responsibilities?
RSP: To look after production and meet targets.
TPS: In the Sevin Unit who was in charge of plant equipment?
RSP: Maintenance department used to look after that.
TPS: Who was in charge of personnel safety?
RSP: The shift in-charge.
TPS: On the night of the disaster which shift were you in?
RSP: ‘B’ Shift. 3 PM to 11 PM.
TPS: [shows the witness a paper] What document is this?
RSP: It is a log sheet for December 2, 1984 of Sevin Unit and it has my signature at the bottom.
TPS: According to the log sheet, on December 2, 1984 how much MIC did you receive from MIC Unit?
RSP: 1110 litres of MIC in liquid form.
TSP: According to the log sheet, what was the temperature of the liquid MIC?
RSP: It was 20 degrees centigrade.
TPS: According to the log sheet how much MIC was there in the tank?
RSP: There was 65 litres already in the tank and 1110 litres was further received so there were 1175 litres in the tank. The entry in the log sheet has been made by the operator and has been supervised by me.


In plain language, an untrained person was left to supervise a transfer of MIC (methyl isocyanate), well known to be a volatile and deadly chemical, that was stored and moved around on site in quantities that far exceeded all safety rules. (Tank 610, which exploded, was 70% full, against a safety maximum of 40%).

The liquid MIC was at a temperature of 20 degrees C. It was meant to be kept at 0 degrees C, but other former-workers at the Union Carbide plant have testified that the MIC storage tanks were no longer being refrigerated, by order of the management, in order to save a trivial sum on freon gas.

The case, without Anderson (Accused #1) or Carbide (Accused #10) continues...

Union Carbide's fatal Tank 610