ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A National Shame

There are really no words to describe this week's announcement by the Supreme Court of the final settlement on the Bhopal case agreed upon by the government of India and the Union Carbide Corporation, USA. Unprecedented? Certainly. Nowhere has a government with welfare pretensions effected so complete a betrayal of the responsibility that it had arrogated to itself on behalf of a desperately ill and dying population. Historic? Undoubtedly, on at least two counts. It puts the clock back for the Indian legal system, making a mockery of all the recent developments in environmental law. Second, it sets a precedent not only for multinationals but for every large industry to escape all liability for faulty technology and unsafe operations and use of hazardous processes. One might cynically point out that little more could be expected of a government so permeated with corruption and ridden with inefficiency and incompetence. None of this, of course, would make any difference to the thousands of the gas-affected in Bhopal. For them the last hope of some recompense, however meagre, and adequate medical aid for what have become chronic health conditions is now dead.

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