First Convictions in 1984 Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster

Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Warren Anderson

Described as “too little, too late” and a “joke” by survivors and advocates, convictions were finally handed down in India related to the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak that killed approximately 15,000 people.

Eight former executives of the company’s Indian subsidiary were convicted of negligence and sentenced two years in prison and fined 100,000 rupees, or $2,100.
Victims groups and activists wanted more serious penalties brought against the former executives, who at one point faced charges of culpable homicide until India’s Supreme Court reduced things to “death by negligence,” which is most often used in cases involving car accidents. Sati Nath Sarangi, an advocate for the victims, characterized the verdict as “the world’s worst industrial disaster reduced to a traffic accident.”
“This sentence is a joke on the people of Bhopal who waited 25 years for justice,” said Abdul Jabbar, a survivor of the catastrophe.
Indian authorities tried going after Union Carbide’s top official, Warren M. Anderson, following the accident, but Anderson fled the country and returned to the United States, refusing to face criminal charges.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Indian Court Convicts Eight in Bhopal Disaster (by Lydia Polgreen and Hari Kumar, New York Times)
Indian Court Convicts 7 in Bhopal Gas Tragedy (by Rama Lakshmi, Washington Post)


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