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Updated: June 22, 2010 21:10 IST

Govt. released Union Carbide from civil liability in 1989: Dow

PTI
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These differently-abled children at JP Nagar in Bhopal, Vikas Yadav (11) and Aman Yadav (9), had to suffer the consequences of India’s worst industrial disaster of 1984. Photo: A. M. Faruqui
These differently-abled children at JP Nagar in Bhopal, Vikas Yadav (11) and Aman Yadav (9), had to suffer the consequences of India’s worst industrial disaster of 1984. Photo: A. M. Faruqui

The Dow Chemical Company, which owns Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), on Tuesday said the Indian government had “fully released” UCC and its subsidiary in Bhopal from any civil liability for the 1984 gas tragedy.

“In 1989, the Government of India - acting on behalf of the victims by virtue of an Act of Parliament - negotiated a 470 million dollar settlement and fully released UCC and Union Carbide India Limited from any civil liability for the gas tragedy,” Dow Chemical Company spokesman, Scot Wheeler, said.

Replying to a questionnaire from PTI, he said the Dow Chemical Company never owned nor inherited the facility in Bhopal.

“When Dow acquired the shares of Union Carbide Corporation, UCC had long ago ceased conducting business in India and had sold its interest in Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL),” Mr. Wheeler said.

He asserted that the UCC remains a separate company and entity with a separate board, separate financial reporting and its own employees.

“Union Carbide India Limited, the company that owned and operated the Bhopal plant, is a viable corporation that still exists to this day and had been renamed Eveready Industries India Limited. Dow has never been connected to this company,” Mr. Wheeler explained.

“The fact is that Dow never owned, operated nor inherited the facility in Bhopal and efforts to attach Dow are inappropriate and misdirected,” he said.

In 1984, both UCC and UCIL participated in the settlement of claims related to the gas tragedy, the spokesman said.

Referring to the 470 million dollar settlement reached with the Indian government, he said the Indian Supreme Court had upheld and affirmed it as complete and final.

“UCC fully met its obligations under this agreement with the Government of India and has no further legal responsibility for the matter,” Mr. Wheeler said adding, as per the terms of the settlement if there was any shortfall in compensation it was to be borne by the Indian government.

Dow had bought Union Carbide in 1999, whose local 51-per cent-owned Indian unit was responsible for the gas leakage in Bhopal.

However in 1994, UCC had sold its 50.9 per cent share in UCIL to McLeod Russell (India) Limited, part of the Williamson Magor group, which renamed the company as Eveready Industries India Limited.

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