Bhopal’s Real Lesson – Attempts to get more out of Carbide for the gas tragedy are futile. India needs good law on civil liability

Source: The post is based on the article “Bhopal’s Real Lesson – Attempts to get more out of Carbide for the gas tragedy are futile. India needs good law on civil liability” published in The Times of India on 12th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Disaster Management.

Relevance: About compensation for industrial disasters.

News: The government filed a writ petition against the 1989 settlement directing Union Carbide Corporation to pay $470 million (nearly Rs 750 crore) as damages for the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

This is because, the settlement was panned for short-changing the victims, for being inadequate for environmental repairs and as an ineffective financial deterrent against gross negligence.

About Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and What are SC’s remarks on increased compensation?
Read here: Bhopal tragedy compensation fund of ₹50cr unutilised: SC

The court held that demanding a settlement after over three decades could damage India’s investment climate.

What are the present issues with deciding compensation?

At present, tourts are arbitrarily deciding compensation. For instance, a) SC reduced the compensation decreed by Delhi high court to be paid in the Uphaar fire tragedy, b) SC set aside a Madras HC order that closed the Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin but ordered the company to deposit Rs 100 crore with the district administration as pollution damages.

So to prevent such adhocism by the government and judiciary, comprehensive legislation is needed. It will help in promptly and accurately fixing civil liability for negligent conduct.

 

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