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Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A Timeline


Dec 2-3, 1984: Toxic methyl isocyanate gas released from Union Carbide India Ltd’s (UCIL) pesticide plant; thousands killed and at least 500,000 injured, millions go ill; harmful effects are passed to generations by the affected people

Dec 4: Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson, among the nine arrested, is released on bail of $ 2,000 and a promise of return; company named 10th accused in a criminal charge of culpable homicide

Feb 1985: Indian govt sues Union Carbide in a US court for $ 3.3 bn

Dec 1987: CBI chargesheets Anderson and others; summons served on Anderson and Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) on charges of culpable homicide

Feb 1989: Chief judicial magistrate of Bhopal issues non-bailable arrest warrant against Anderson for ignoring summons; India and Union Carbide strike out-of-court deal; a compensation of $ 470 mn is given

Feb-Mar: Protests against unjust settlement begin

1992: Part of the $ 470 mn distributed among the Bhopal gas victims

Feb 1992: Anderson declared a fugitive for ignoring summons

Nov 1994: Supreme Court allows Union Carbide to sell stake in UCIL to McLeod Russell (India) Ltd

Sep 1996: SC dilutes charges against Indian officials of UCIL, a subsidiary of and majority owned by UCC — partly on grounds that culpability lay with UCC

Aug 1999: Union Carbide announces merger with US-based Dow Chemicals

Nov 1999: Greenpeace tests soil, groundwater and wells in and around derelict Union Carbide factory and finds high quantity of 12 volatile organic chemicals and mercury; several victims and survivors’ organisations file an action suit against Union Carbide and Anderson in US court for violating international laws

Feb 2001: Union Carbide refuses to take responsibility for UCIL’s liabilities in India

Jan 2002: Study by a citizen organisation finds lead and mercury in breast milk of nursing mothers in communities near the plant

Jun 2002: Survivors protest in New Delhi after reports that India is to drop charges against Anderson

Aug 2002: Charges of culpable homicide maintained against Anderson; court demands his extradition; US authorities say unable to locate him

May 2003: India asks US for Anderson’s extradition 

Mar 2004: US court says it could order Dow Chemicals to clean soil and groundwater around the factory site if India gives a no-objection certificate; certificate is given

Jun 2004: US rejects India’s extradition request, as it does not “meet requirements of certain provisions” of the bilateral extradition treaty

Jul 2004: Supreme Court orders RBI to pay out more than ~1,500 cr, part of the $ 470 mn received as compensation and kept in an account since 1992

Oct 2004: Victims’ protest government’s failure to pay compensation; SC sets a Nov 15 deadline for payment of remaining of the $ 470-mn compensation

Jun 2010: All eight accused, including the then chairman of Union Carbide, Keshub Mahindra, convicted by a court but let off with minor punishment

Aug 2010: CBI files curative petition in SC to recall the order issued by it in Sep 1996 (SC had diluted charges against Union Carbide’s Indian officials)

May 2011: SC dismisses CBI’s curative petition for harsher charges against the Indian officials of UCIL 

Source: Agencies 


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