NEW DELHI.The Supreme Court’s rejection of Indian government’s curative petition seeking additional funds of over Rs 7,400 crore over and above the $470 million already paid by Union Carbide Corporation (now owned by Dow Chemicals), draws curtains on the nearly four decades old Bhopal gas tragedy that claimed more than 3,000 lives.
Rejecting the petition that sought more funds for the victims of the world’s biggest Industrial disaster, the top court said it would open up a Pandora’s Box and would be “detrimental” to the claimants.
The leakage of highly toxic methyl isocyanate gas from a pesticide factory owned by US company Union Carbide in Madhya Pradesh’s state capital Bhopal on the intervening night of 2 and 3 December 1984, killed thousands and maimed lakhs of people.
Following the Bhopal disaster, the Indian government sued Union Carbide and the company agreed to pay a compensation of $470 million (around Rs 715 crore) in damages in 1989.
In December 2010, the Indian government filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court demanding an enhanced compensation over and above the amount received from Union Carbide.
The government argued that the earlier settlement of Rs 715 crore was inadequate as it was based on an incorrect estimate of the total number of deaths, injuries, and damages and did not take into account the eventual environmental degradation.
In its verdict on March 14, the Supreme Court denied reopening the settlement case, saying the compensation was found to be in “surplus of the actual requirement”.
The top court said the settlement can be set aside only in case of fraud, which was not the case here.
The court’s final verdict has disappointed organisatons representing the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy.Thousands of survivors of the industrial disaster have said they andtheir families are still suffering from chronic health problems due tothe leak and the leftover toxic waste.