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Union Carbide files petition in SC over Bhopal tragedy

May 06, 2012 16:47 IST

United States-based Union Carbide Corporation has filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding early hearing on the government's curative petition in the Bhopal gas disaster case, saying delays are being used to besmirch the reputation of its parent firm, Dow Chemicals.

UCC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, in the petition sought a fixed timetable for hearing and early disposal of the curative petition filed by the Union government in December 2010, seeking to reopen the settlements granted by the apex court in the Bhopal gas disaster case.

It said that its parent firm TDCC had no connection with the events at Union Carbide India Ltd's Bhopal factory in 1984. TDCC had acquired UCC in 2001, 17 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy and 12 years after the settlement of claims.

The plant from which the gas leak occurred was owned by Union Carbide India Ltd, in which UCC owned 50.9 per cent stake at the time of the tragedy in 1984. Union Carbide India Ltd continues to exist and is now known as Eveready India Ltd.

UCC in the petition stated that it has not merged with its parent firm, TDCC, whose sponsorship of the London Olympics has created a controversy in India.

Allegations that TDCC has failed to clean up the toxicity of the plant site are baseless, it said, citing the 1991 ruling of the Supreme Court which stated that UCC had no further liabilities after payment of the $425 million compensation.

"However, the fact that the Curative Petitions are now pending has given a handle to the NGOs, purporting to represent the interest of the victims of the Bhopal tragedy, to once again make this kind of allegations against the UCC and its parent company," the petition said.

It said the Union government has joined in making these allegations with a formal letter being written to the International Olympic Committee demanding dropping of Dow
Chemicals as the sponsors of this year's London Olympics.

"The reason advanced for this stance is that the present applicant has not fully discharged its liability to the victims of the Bhopal tragedy," it said.

It said the government and the NGOs have not taken any steps since the filing of the  replies to the curative petition five months ago, to complete the record, they have taken a strident position against TDCC for the alleged failure to take steps to clean up the alleged toxic mess in and around the site.

"It is now obvious that the Union of India and the NGOs (who should have been anxious to pursue these legal proceedings) are in no hurry to have the cases heard in the court but want to use the pendency of these proceedings to besmirch the reputation of the applicant and TDCC on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations," it said.

TDCC claimed that UCC is a separate company from it and has not been merged into it.

"The Curative Petition proceeds on the factually erroneous basis that UCC has merged into TDCC, on the basis of which it is contended that TDCC should be made accountable for the acts of UCC," it said.

On allegations that TDCC had failed to clean up the toxicity at the plant site, the petition said, "It is the case of the UCC that after the judgment of the (Supreme Court) no further liabilities remain and that these allegations are baseless."

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