Bhopal, July 16: The protracted legal battle over former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson’s extradition has inched forward with the Centre asking the Indian mission in Washington to move US authorities to get the man wanted for in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.
The Central Bureau of Investigation today produced a letter before the chief judicial magistrate at Bhopal written by A.B. Roy, the joint secretary in the foreign ministry, to deputy high commissioner in Washington Alok Prasad. The letter, dated May 6, asked Prasad to “transmit” the government’s request to US authorities for Anderson’s appearance in Indian courts.
The CBI also produced three supporting documents that have been sent to the US along with an extradition request.
India has been seeking Anderson’s extradition for years. In February 1989, a similar request was made but it was not followed up as the then UCIL — the ownership of the company has changed hands — agreed on an out-of-court compensation that later got mired in legal tangles.
Apart from Anderson’s extradition, hearings on the 1984 fatal gas leak on the intervening night of December 2 and 3 — which claimed more than 4,000 lives — have been progressing at a snail’s pace as more and more victims and witnesses are dying. So far, the chief judicial magistrate has heard 136 witnesses, while more than a hundred are yet to depose.
Survivors of the tragedy have been living in sub-human conditions exposed to environmental hazards. Though the state government has been projecting its efforts to provide medicine to the victims, survivors and non-government organisations paint a gloomy picture where patients, orphans and widows are denied medicine, pension and work opportunities.
The change of ownership has complicated matters further. Dow International, which acquired UCIL a few years ago, today submitted details of the merger, ostensibly to clear the new company from carrying on UCIL’s liabilities.