Indian-origin MP secures UK Parliament debate on Bhopal gas tragedy

Navendu Mishra (Photo: Facebook)

London: An Indian-origin opposition Labor MP secured a debate in the Westminster Hall of the British Parliament to demand justice for the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, which will mark its 38th anniversary early next month.
Navendu Mishra, Labor MP for Stockport in northern England and leader of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for India (Trade and Investment), called on the UK government to demand action in the UK from Dow Chemical, the owners of Union Carbide in America Company involved in the December 1984 gas leak disaster.

During Tuesday’s parliamentary debate, he called for Britain’s contribution to the campaign for justice in India and for pressure from the British government on Dow to face justice in Indian courts.

“The Dow Chemical Company, Union Carbide’s parent company, has shied away from its responsibilities to the victims and survivors for too long,” said Mr. Mishra.

“Today we still stand up for justice for the victims and survivors. Groups such as Action for Bhopal, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, Unison union, UK TUC and Indian civil society and unions have all called for compensation, environmental clean-up, medical care and research and support for victims,” ​​he said.

The Bhopal gas tragedy occurred on December 2-3, 1984, when over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate following a leak at a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Madhya Pradesh. The tragic incident is widely considered to be the worst industrial disaster ever to occur in the world.

“For many of us, the older ones in the room, the disaster at Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant is burned into our minds as one of the worst industrial accidents in history,” said Foreign Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), during the British government’s response to the debate.

“On December 3, 1984, this gas leak from a pesticide factory killed 3,800 people instantly. It has caused up to half a million other serious illnesses and caused premature deaths. Responsibility for responding to the tragic disaster has always rested with Union Carbide, an American company, and with the Indian government,” she said.

The minister acknowledged that the UK had not provided any additional funding or direct support to India in response to the tragedy, but the former Department for International Development (DfID) had supported broader development in Madhya Pradesh from which “people have benefited , including those affected by the disaster lives in Bhopal”.

“I will commit to expressing to my Indian counterparts the concerns of all MPs present about the need for continued support and compensation for the victims,” ​​she said.

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