Did the Indian government guarantee Dow Chemicals, the parent company of Union Carbide, that it will not be held liable for the Bhopal gas tragedy?
An RTI response has raised fresh questions over the government's position in the case, as it brought to light a
letter written in 2006 by Dow Chemicals CEO Andrew Liveris to the then Indian Ambassador to the US Ronen Sen, claiming that the Indian government had said that his company is not liable for the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984.
If Liveris is to be believed, the assurance from the Indian government came even when an Indian court was still
deliberating on the issue.
A copy of Liveris' letter dated November 8, 2006, was obtained by US-based Somu Kumar of the International Campaign
for Justice for Bhopal under the Right to Information Act from the Indian Embassy in Washington.
A copy of the letter and other documents obtained by Kumar from the Indian Embassy were circulated among the Indian
"Given the statements made by Government of India representatives in front of all meeting attendees that DOW is
not responsible for Bhopal and will not be pursued by the GoI, it will be important to follow through to ensure concrete,
sustained actions are taken that are consistent with these statements," Liveris said in his letter to Sen
However, it was clear which meeting Liveris was referring to.
"It is shocking that GoI representatives have announced that DOW is not liable even though court is still
deliberating on this issue," Kumar said in a statement.
Members of the International Campaign for Justice for Bhopal, including Kumar, held a protest demonstration outside
the Indian Embassy here.
In 2004, the Jabalpur High Court began hearing the case on who should pay for the sanitisation of the defunct
Carbide plant and in 2005 the Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan, sought from Dow Rs 100 crores
for the clean-up.
"Around the same time, GoI representatives had already announced the verdict that DOW will not be held liable while
the court has still not decided on the issue," Kumar said.
Liveris' letter also sought withdrawal of the application seeking financial deposits for the clean-up.
"His follow-up action plans seems like direct dictation on what Government should do including blatant
statement of asking GoI to withdraw its application for financial deposit against remediation costs," Kumar alleged.