Monday, November 29, 1999

Activists for CBI probe into UCC``s alleged duel safety norms

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New Delhi, Jun 17 (PTI) Ahead of tomorrow''s GoM meeting on Bhopal gas tragedy issue, activists demanded steps by the government to facilitate a CBI probe into safety arrangements at the Union Carbide''s plant in the US to compare them with those at its Bhopal facility. The activists today presented a memorandum to Union Minister of Law and Justice Veerappa Moily, who is part of the Group of Ministers that will discuss all areas of concern in the Bhopal gas tragedy case. They pressed for, among other things, the CBI investigation which they claimed would expose the duel safety standards adopted by the company and help firm up the culpability of Union Carbide Corporation in the tragedy. The Memorandum urged the government to "execute the Letter Rogatory to the US Government that was issued by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal in 1988 without further delay". The said letter of request had sought permission for CBI to carry out investigations at the then UCC''s West Virginia plant and collect relevant documents "to verify whether or not UCC had adopted duel saftey standards while installing safety systems in the MIC unit at Bhopal". "Today the US government has said they would look into the issue of (Warren) Anderson''s extradition provided there is enough evidence against him," said D Raghunandan, Secretary, Delhi Science Forum, one of the groups active in Bhopal. He said while the recent verdict was against the Union Carbide India Limited officials, a parallel case against UCC is still pending in court and Anderson''s culpability can be established only if his company UCC is nailed. "It is essential for the GoM to look into how and why the prosecutors have not proceeded in the case," he said, demanding the Letter Rogatory be executed to firm up evidence. "The diagrams and manuals of the plant show that safety standards in West Virginia and Bhopal plant were not similar and there were wide differences," he claimed. Raghunandan said he feared the GoM would merely take damage-containing measures to pacify anger and not take any concrete measures. He likened the US'' suggestion on proof against Anderson to Pakistan''s repeated contentions that it did not have enough evidence to proceed against the accused in the Mumbai attack case. The nine-member GoM, which was reconstituted amid a raging controversy over the quantum of punishment given to those accused in the case, is meeting tomorrow. N D Jayaprakash of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti said the activists had expressed their desire to meet the GoM members and Moily had asked them to him to meet him again tomorrow. "Once the Government ensures that CBI conducts a comparative study of the two plants of UCC, there would be enough evidence to nail the accused," he said.

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