Bhopal battle continues

India will make “vigorous”
efforts to push the United States to extradite the former head of an American
chemical company in connection with the 1984 industrial disaster in Bhopal,
India, a government minister said.

A court in central India ruled
earlier this month that seven top executives from Union Carbide India Limited
were guilty for their role in a gas leak at the Bhopal plant.

The same court has issued an arrest
warrant for Warren Anderson, the former chairman of Union Carbide Corp.

But Anderson has been declared an
“absconder” — or a fugitive — from the indictment, officials say.

 A panel is recommending that Indian
authorities use new evidence in support of the extradition plea: testimonies
that the parent company was aware of what investigators believe were defects in
its Bhopal plant. The country’s federal cabinet will have the final say.

Nearly 4,000 people died in the
immediate aftermath of the escape of methyl isocyanate, a chemical used to
produce pesticides, from Union Carbide India Limited’s plant in Bhopal in December
1984.

More than 10,000 other deaths have
been blamed on related illnesses, with adverse health effects reported in
hundreds of thousands of survivors.

Many of them struggle with ailments
including shortness of breath, cancer, near-blindness, fatigue and heart
problems.

Indian industrialist Keshub
Mahindra, then head of Union Carbide India Limited, six colleagues and their
company were convicted earlier this month of negligence causing death, endangering
public life and causing hurt.

They were granted bail after a
judge imposed a two-year prison term and a fine of about $2,000.

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