Regional (M.P & C.G)

Govt Reverses Decision to Open Union Carbide Plant

Reversing its previous decision, the government has not decided not to open up the Union Carbide factory, the plant which is known for world’s worst industrial disaster.

The decision taken earlier this month was that the plan would be opened for a week to mark the 25th anniversary of the accident in a bid to dispel fears that the site was still harmful.

The decision, however, triggered protest from victims groups who said that the step would put people in danger and was insensitive to the tens of thousands estimated to have been killed by the gas leak from the factory on December 3, 1984.

Substantiating the decision not to open the plant, Gas Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Babulal Gaur said that the move could be seen as influencing voters ahead of local elections.

He said that election code of conduct forbids the government making any major policy announcements ahead of elections and civic elections are to be held in the state on December 19 to 21.

“We do not want to violate the code of conduct. The factory would be surely opened up, but maybe in January after the election process is over,” the minister said.

In the disaster, nearly 8,000 to 10,000 people were killed in the first three days according to an independent data by the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and hundreds of thousands more still suffer from the effects of exposure to the fumes and contamination of land and water.

A storage tank at a pesticide plant run by US group Union Carbide – purchased by Dow Chemical in 1999 – leaked over 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas into the surrounding.

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