Indian-Origin MP Secures Debate In UK Parliament On Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Early next month, on the 38th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, an Indian-origin Labour Party MP obtained a debate in Westminster Hall of the UK Parliament to demand justice for the victims. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for India (Trade and Investment) and Labour MP for Stockport in northern England, Navendu Mishra, have urged the UK government to demand action from Dow Chemical, the owners of Union Carbide, the American company responsible for the gas leak disaster in December 1984, in Britain.
He requested that Britain support the cause of justice in India during the Tuesday parliamentary debate and that the UK government put pressure on Dow to stand trial in India.
The Dow Chemical Company, which is the parent company of Union Carbide, has for too long evaded its responsibility to the victims and survivors,” said Mr Mishra.
“Today we are still campaigning for justice for the victims and survivors. Groups such as Action for Bhopal, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, the trade union Unison, the British TUC, and Indian civil society and trade unions, have all called for compensation, environmental remediation, medical care and research, and support for the victims,” he said.
Over 500,000 individuals were exposed to methyl isocyanate during the Bhopal gas tragedy on December 1-2, 1984, as a result of a leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Madhya Pradesh. The horrific event is recognised as the worst industrial catastrophe to have ever occurred in the history of the planet.
“For many of us, the older ones in the room, the disaster at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal is seared into our memories as one of the worst industrial accidents in history,” said Anne-Marie Trevelyan, minister of state in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), during the UK government’s response to the debate.
“On 3 December 1984, this gas leak from a pesticide plant killed 3,800 people immediately. It has left up to half a million more with significant illnesses and has caused premature deaths. The responsibility to respond to the tragic disaster has always lain with Union Carbide, an American company, and with the government of India,” she said.
Although the former Department for International Development (DfID) supported broader development in Madhya Pradesh that “benefited people, including those affected by the disaster living in Bhopal,” the minister acknowledged that the UK did not provide any additional funding or direct support to India in response to the tragedy.
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