Bhopal, June 14:
Activists representing survivors of the 1984 gas disaster on Tuesday said they had petitioned the White House regarding the criminal case against Union Carbide and its new owner Dow Chemical.
The leaders said they hoped the US Department of Justice will serve the Bhopal District Court’s notice on Dow Chemical so that it appears in the court here on July 13.
The organisations said they had sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking directions to the Central Bureau of Investigation to call for harsher measures against Dow Chemical if it fails to appear on July 13.
Activist Rashida Bee said: “One month is not yet over and we have collected more than 117 thousand signatures on our petition.
“As per the terms of the White House web site, the US government is obliged to respond to our petition within the next 30 days.
“We are hopeful the Prime Minister will take note of this historic challenge by the Bhopal survivors and their international supporters and instruct the CBI to seek issuance of non-bailable warrant against Dow Chemical if it fails to appear in court on July 13,” she said.
Added Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action: “Once Dow Chemical appears in court, it will have to present Union Carbide to face trial.
“A successful trial can very well lead to Union Carbide having to pay heavy criminal fines in keeping with its grave criminal acts and its terrible consequences. Hopefully the fines will be large enough to supplement the meagre compensation victims have received so far.”
Tonnes of poisonous gas leaked from the now shut Union Carbide pesticide plant in the heart of Bhopal on the night of December 2-3, 1984. At least 1,700 people died instantly and thousands have died in later years.
Many more face life-long health issues due to exposure to the gas. Activists say the compensation Carbide paid to survivors and the families of those died was too meagre. (IANS)