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FM may not meet Dow officials in US

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee may not meet officials of Dow Chemicals, the new owners of Union Carbide that caused the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, during his visit to the US next week.

delhi Updated: Jun 16, 2010 18:42 IST

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee may not meet officials of Dow Chemicals, the new owners of Union Carbide that caused the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, during his visit to the US next week.

"I am not aware that this issue is on the agenda in any way," Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters to a query if Mukherjee would be meeting with Dow Chemicals chief Andrew Liveris.

In 2001, Dow Chemicals took Union Carbide Corporation, whose Indian arm was behind one of the world's worst industrial disaster that claimed over 15,000 lives in 1984.

"No, absolutely not. I mean let's be clear about it. We are the government delegation led by the Finance Minister (and) will have a meeting with the US government people on a wide range of issues.

"We are also invited to join for a couple of hours, the meeting of the US-India CEO Forum," Ahluwalia said when asked about reports that Mukherjee would raise the Bhopal tragedy with Liveris.

The Indian officials will attend the US-India CEO Forum meeting on June 22.

A local court on June 7 convicted seven people, including Union Carbide India's Chairman Keshub Mahindra, to two years imprisonment holding them responsible for the gas leak that killed over 15,000 people in 1984. Union Carbide's then CEO Warren Anderson was not tried, while another accused passed away.

Following fierce protests from civil rights activists and political parties, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 14 ordered a group of ministers to look into the issue afresh and report back in 10 days.