The government on Friday informed Parliament that no representative from the U.S.-based Dow Chemical has appeared before the Bhopal district court till date in the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak case despite several summons since 2004.
In December 1984, an industrial disaster happened when Methyl Iso-cyanate (MIC), a toxic gas stored in two tanks of Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL)'s pesticide unit at Bhopal, leaked into the atmosphere causing loss of human life and injuring a large number of people, it said.
Fertiliser and Chemicals Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, in his written reply to the Lok Sabha, said several suits were filed for compensation and damage in different courts in India.
The minister said a related case number 'MJC 91/1992, CBI v/s Warren Anderson' is pending in the Court of Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
"The Judicial Magistrate Court issued summons to the Dow Chemical Company on 26.04.2004, 28.02.2014, 04.08.2014, 22.11.2014, 15.09.2015, 22.01.2016, 04.06.2018, 18.09.2018, 23.05.2019 and 13.11.2019 to appear before the court," he said.
Despite number of summons issued to them, no representative from Dow Chemical Company has appeared before the court till date, Mr. Mandaviya said.
Looking at the magnitude of the human suffering that occurred due to gas leakage, the minister said the Supreme Court had passed a settlement order dated February 14-15, 1989, directing Union Carbide Corporation to pay a sum of $470 million, which was deposited by the company with the registrar of the apex court in 1989.
Based on the apex court's order, the actual disbursement of the compensation started from 1992.
The Office of the Welfare Commissioner (Bhopal Gas Victims), Bhopal disbursed ₹ 1,549.33 crore as compensation in settled cases of 5,74,393 claimants belonging to the categories of death, permanent disability, temporary disability, injury of utmost severity cases, minor injury, loss of property/PSU and loss of livestock till November this year, he said.
Further, the Supreme Court in its order dated July 19, 2004 had directed the Welfare Commissioner to disburse the balance amount of approximately ₹1,500 crore, which had accumulated with the RBI on account of accrual of interest and exchange rate variation, on pro-rata basis to the claimants whose cases had been settled.
"The distribution of pro-rata compensation started from November 2004. A sum of Rs 1,517.90 crore as pro-rata compensation has been awarded in 5,63,126 cases till November, 2021," the minister added.