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Tags: India | boss | bhopal.extradite

India Wants Extradition of US boss on Bhopal

Monday, 21 June 2010 07:18 AM

NEW DELHI – India is to push the US to extradite the American former boss of the company blamed for the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster as part of a new government response to the accident, a minister said Monday.

Under fire for the slow pace of justice and inadequate clean-up of the site of the disaster, the world's worst industrial accident, the government created a panel of senior ministers to draw up recommendations for fresh action.

The panel, whose advice will now be handed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has recommended renewing efforts to secure the extradition of the former chief executive of Union Carbide, which owned the plant at the centre of the case.

The disaster unfolded on the night of December 2, 1984, when the pesticide plant in Bhopal, capital of central Madhya Pradesh state, spewed 40 tonnes of toxic gas into surrounding residential areas.

The gas killed thousands instantly and tens of thousands more from its lingering effects over the following years.

"India will make vigorous efforts to get Warren Anderson repatriated," Minister for Urban Development Jaipal Reddy told AFP after the panel finalised its work.

Anderson was arrested in India after the accident, but he then fled the country. Repeated requests for his extradition have been turned down by US authorities since and few now expect Washington to assent.

The now-retired Anderson, like the local managers of Union Carbide's subsidiary in India, faces charges of criminal negligence. Seven of the local managers were convicted on June 7, while Anderson was named an absconder.

Amid anger in India about the perceived leniency of the sentences given to the Indian managers -- two years in prison pending appeal -- Anderson has become a target and a lightning rod for a general feeling of injustice.

The ministers also recommended that the federal government help with the clean-up of the site and that compensation for victims be doubled, Reddy said.

"We have decided on a compensation of 10 lakh (one million rupees, 22,000 dollars) for each of the dead, minus the amount already received," Reddy said.

The ministerial group has also recommended the setting-up of a federal medical research facility in Bhopal to monitor the health of survivors and children born to them, Reddy said.

Local media reports said the government would also explore the possibility of claiming more compensation from US multinational Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide after the disaster.

Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide in 1999 and says all liabilities related to the accident were cleared in a 470-million-dollar settlement reached out of court with India's government in 1989.

The company declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

"We have made a report and this report will be considered by the cabinet," Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters, adding that a special meeting had been called by the prime minister for Friday.

"We have dealt with all the issues: compensation, legal issues including the issue of pursuing the extradition of Warren Anderson and... most importantly, remediation matters and health-related matters," he said.

Other members of the panel included Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad, Law Minister Veerappa Moily and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

The government's critics have suggested the panel is a modest bureaucratic response to public fury over the case and is too little, too late.

"Our focus now is in bringing relief to the people who have suffered as a result of this ghastly tragedy," said Chidambaram. "There are still thousands of people who continue to suffer."

India pressing the US for Anderson's extradition has the potential to strain relations between New Delhi and Washington. The State Department has said it does not expect "any new inquiries or anything like that".

Government figures put the death toll from the accident at 3,500 within three days of the leak, but the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) puts the figure at between 8,000 and 10,000 in the same period.

The ICMR has said that up to 1994, 25,000 people also died from the consequences of gas exposure, and victims' groups say many are still suffering the effects today.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

NEW DELHI – India is to push the US to extradite the American former boss of the company blamed for the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster as part of a new government response to the accident, a minister said Monday.
Monday, 21 June 2010 07:18 AM
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