Why did India accept a mere $500 for every Bhopal life?
June 11, 2010
In 2002, Dow Chemicals paid 10 million dollars to the family of a child who became brain-injured after being exposed to their pesticide. A few years before that, the Indian government had settled with Union Carbide, which was bought by Dow in 2001, on a compensation of a mere 500 dollars per Bhopal Gas Tragedy victim.
When asked about the double standards, a Dow spokesperson made this appalling remark: "$500 is plenty good for an Indian."
Did the Indian government at that time too think that $500 was enough for an Indian life? Why did India settle with Union Carbide for a pittance in 1989?
The then Attorney General, K Parasaran, who oversaw the settlement, has said it was the Supreme Court which decided the settlement amount with Union Carbide.
Parasaran talked to NDTV's Group Editor Barkha Dutt on India Decides at 9. Here are portions of that interview.
Q: Mr. Parasaran there is huge controversy and huge criticism over why India agreed to settle at all with Union Carbide.
Parasaran: The settlement was arrived at on the calculations made by the court itself. In fact, I told the court in a matter like this, at whatever amount it may be settled, even if it is billions and billions of dollars, there'll be criticism. I don't propose to take the responsibility on my shoulders... The court said our shoulders are broad enough, we will take the responsibility... and after full debate between me and Mr Nariman and some two or three private institutions were also represented before the court, the court decided that this is a reasonable amount.
Q: What would you say Mr Parasaran to the victims of Bhopal who have been campaigning for 25 years to try and get the attention of the country, who say that they have got neither justice in the sense that Anderson is out there on the run nor adequate compensation?
Parasaran: No, that's a matter of views and opinions. There were genuine victims, there were people who hadn't suffered, there were all sorts of claims made. If government took up the case of each victim, the case would have gone on for 30-40 yrs. What the government was concerned about was getting immediate action.