It was a “double fault” committed by the Rajiv Gandhi government at the Centre and the Arjun Singh-led Madhya Pradesh government: not only was the then Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson allowed to escape, but even on the question of compensation the American company got away with paying just $450 million against the initial government demand of $2 billion.
Saying this, the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded here on Thursday that a thorough inquiry be conducted and the report made public on how Mr. Anderson was helped by the government to go home safely instead of facing criminal charges here.
Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar pointed out that bits and pieces of information have come tumbling out as former officers reveal what transpired. It was time the country was told the full and unabridged story of what happened. He said Mr. Anderson could not have been released without a green signal from the Prime Minister's Office in Delhi and the Chief Minister's Office in Bhopal.
Mr. Javadekar said the Central Bureau of Investigation had placed on record that there were design defects in the plant that led to the disaster, and these defects had come to the notice of company authorities. Yet the top management did nothing to avert the disaster. The government's utter criminality had been further highlighted by the fact that neither Union Carbide nor Dow Chemicals, which now owns Carbide, had been asked to even clean up the residue pollution in and around the factory.
Finally, the Indian taxpayers would have to shell out the compensation — which the country would do willingly to help the Bhopal victims — but it was completely shameful that taxpayers would have to be burdened with what was clearly the responsibility of the American company. Worse, this would set a very bad precedent for the future.
Mr. Javadekar emphasised that it was during the Vajpayee regime in 2003 that for the first time India made a formal request for Mr. Anderson's extradition. He agreed that political parties in general had not taken up the Bhopal victims' cause as they should have these last 25 years.