The following press statement was issued by the Government of India at 4.30pm today:
PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
The Government of India have decided to convey the “No Objection” to the US Court of Appeals to consider environmental contamination claims unrelated to the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster as defined in section 2(a) of the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act 1985.
2. The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers on the initiative of the Minister Shri Ram Vilas Paswan took up the matter with Ministry of Law and Justice for their expeditious opinion. Shri Paswan has directed the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers to convey the Government”s decision to the US Court through the Consulate General of India in New York. A copy of the letter written to the Councillor General has been marked to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Indian Ambassador in Washington.
Soon after the issue was brought to the notice of the Minister of chemicals and Fertilisers Shri Ram Vilas Paswan in the middle of this month, he directed the Ministry officials to take up the issue with Ministry of Law and Justice on priority.
3. The issue pertains to a civil proceeding instituted in 1999 by some of the Bhopal based NGOs including that of Hasina Bi”s claims and affected persons in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking relief under the Alien Tort Claims Act of New York against Union Carbide Corporation and Mr. Warren Anderson for causing personal injury as well as damage to the property. The suit was dismissed by the District Court on August 28, 2000 on the grounds that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the action and that their claims were barred by 1989 settlement in the Supreme Court of India. Being aggrieved by the dismissal of their suit, the plaintiff filed an appeal before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals heard parties in detail and after taking into account all the relevant facts, remanded the case by its order dated 17.3.04 to the District Court to consider certain aspects afresh.
4. As is clear from the order of the Court of Appeal the claim for site remediation can be taken up by the District Court to which the case stands remanded only if the Indian Government or the State of Madhya Pradesh seeks to intervene in the action or otherwise urges the Court to order such relief.
5. The views of Madhya Pradesh Government have also been obtained and who have also conveyed their “No Objection” in the matter with certain conditions.
6. The “No Objection” given by the Government of India gives its consent to the US Court to direct the Union Carbide Corporation to clean up the mess it left behind in its plant in Bhopal. The plant, which was operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) a wholly owned subsidiary of the multinational Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), closed down in December 1984 following the leak of tonnes of methyl isocyanate that led to the death of thousands of people.
Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers
New Delhi: Asada 02, 1926/ June 23, 2004-06-24
NOTES FOR JOURNALISTS
Researchers and others seeking background information to the contamination at the Union Carbide factory and the history of the Class Action suit in New York, will find useful information in the Library section of this site. In particular see:
The Greenpeace report, The Bhopal Legacy, investigating contamination of soil and ground water in and around the abandoned and now-derelict Union Carbide factory site in Bhopal. Published in November 1999.
Surviving Bhopal 2002: Toxic present, toxic future. A report by the Fact Finding Mission on Bhopal. Lead, mercury and organochlorines found in breast milk of local women. Published January 2002