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UK Opposition MPs urge Britain to step up and assist India in getting justice for Bhopal gas victims

UK Opposition MPs urge Britain to step up and assist India in getting justice for Bhopal gas victims


LONDON: Opposition MPs in Britain are urging the UK government to give political support to victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy to help them achieve justice and for the UK to offer expertise and funding to help clean up the site.
Several also want the UK to help India bring to justice those responsible and to support further investigations into the health impacts, cause and culpability for the explosion.
The tragedy occurred on December 2, 1984, when around half a million people were exposed to the gas methyl isocyanate following a leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant. Around 25,000 people have died and 150,000 chronically ill survivors remain.
Speaking at a debate in Westminster Hall on Tuesday, Labour MP Navendu Mishra called on the UK to demand a meeting with Dow Chemical in Britain to put pressure on it to face justice in the Indian courts and to lobby Dow to provide the unpublished findings of all research conducted by Dow and Union Carbide on the impacts of the disaster.
Labour MP Claudia Webbe said: “Because of its long-standing history with India and, of course, its long-standing history with the US, behind whose borders Dow is currently hiding, the UK is in a unique position to explore remedies for Bhopal survivors.”
In January, the Indian government will argue for additional compensation from Dow and Union Carbide before India’s Supreme Court.
Labour MP John McDonnell said the UK government should ensure that the company will not receive any benefits by way of contracts, tax reliefs or government grants unless it accepts its responsibility, and works with the Indian government to provide compensation commensurate with the injuries caused, as well as funds the ongoing medical and social care needed by the victims and the rehabilitation of the area.
SNP MP Chris Law accused both the US and Indian governments of “kowtowing to corporate interests”. “The Indian government has been accused of deliberately suppressing any research that proves the long-term systemic or genetic damage caused by the gas explosion to protect the corporations involved,” he said.
UK junior minister for the Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “The responsibility to respond to the tragic disaster has always lain with Union Carbide, an American company, and with the government of India. These issues remain a matter for the Indian authorities, in particular the Madhya Pradesh state government, which has had control of the site and its remediation since 1998.” But she agreed to raise with her Indian counterparts the concerns raised.


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