India cannot go back on the $470-million settlement reached with Union Carbide in the 1984 Bhopal gas leak case, Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj said on Friday.

He pointed out that the government had transferred to the foreign exchange reserve the $470 million paid by Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide Corporation, in final settlement to free the company from all civil liabilities.

Mr. Bhardwaj, who was Minister for State for Law in the Union Government when the out-of-court settlement was reached in November 1989, said Indian authorities could not go back on it, after the compensation amount was settled with the company. “The settlement amount went to the foreign exchange corpus as there was such need for the country then,” he said speaking at the 93{+r}{+d} annual general meeting of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Bangalore.

“A separate [piece of] legislation, namely the Bhopal Gas Leak (Processing Claims) Act, was enacted by the Union government to seek compensation from the company on behalf of the victims, and everybody knows that the company paid $470 million to India and now we cannot go back on the settlement.”

He also pointed out that the then Union Cabinet had met hundreds of times to deliberate on how to claim compensation and how to get a larger amount by way of settlement.

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