Justice delayed, and justice denied. That is the opinion of protestors on hearing the news eight former Indian employees of US chemicals firm Union Carbide have been found guilty of negligence in the Bhopal disaster of 1984.
Seven received sentences of two years and fines of less than 2000 euros. The eighth was fined a larger sum. It is punishment the families of victims slammed as derisory, and not worth campaigning a quarter of a century for.
“Those who took lives of 25,000 and seriously affected 500 000 more were just given two years punishment. Here if a person is convicted of murder then he is punished for 20 years at least. We are not at all happy with the judgment,” said one activist.
Families were refused entrance to the court to hear the verdict, which can be appealed. Because of the slow Indian legal process, that could take years.
The Bhopal plant still stands, but many of the villages around it are deserted and the soil remains contaminated.
There are fears other Bhopals could be on the horizon. A law currently stalled in the Indian parliament would limit foreign firm’s liabilities entering India’s civilian nuclear market.
Activists say around 100,000 people are still suffering today from cancers, blindness, respiratory diseases, and immune, neurological and reproductive disorders after Bhopal’s toxic gas leak.