International Dimensions of Ethics Education in Science and Engineering Case Study Series
Bhopal Plant Disaster Appendix A: Chronology
by MJ Peterson Revised February 26, 2009
Appendix Contents: 1.) Bhopal Chronology 2.) Ensuing Litigation Chronology References used in this section: Paul Srivastava, Bhopal: Anatomy of a Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1987). Sanjoy Hazarika, Bhopal: The Lessons of a Tragedy (New Delhi: Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 1987)
This case was created by the International Dimensions of Ethics Education in Science and Engineering (IDEESE) Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with support from the National Science Foundation under grant number 0734887. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. More information about the IDEESE and copies of its modules can be found at http://www.umass.edu/sts/ethics. © 2008 IDEESE Project.
Bhopal Gas Disaster Chronology
The timeline below documents the incidents leading up to and resulting from the 1984 Bhopal Plant Disaster. Use the key below to quickly find information on government measures relating to specific organizations, Indian national legislation, casualties, and economic conditions and profitability. A timeline documenting ensuing legislation can be found at the end of the main chronology. Key brown = central (India), state (Madhya Pradesh), or city (Bhopal) government measures relating specifically to UCC, UCIL, Bhopal plant, or immediate neighborhood of plant green = general India national legislation relevant to conduct of business red = casualty-producing plant incidents violet = economic conditions relevant to Bhopal plant profitability ___________________________________________________________________________ UCIL= Union Carbide (India) Limited UCC= Union Carbide Corporation
Indian Parliament adopts Companies Act of 1956 which requires affiliates of foreign companies to register as separate companies under Indian law and imposes limits on foreign investment and participation in all Indian companies. Union Carbide reduces its share of ownership in its Indian subsidiary (then called National Carbon Company (India) Limited from 100% to 60% in accordance with new Indian law by registering as an Indian company and selling shares to Indian citizens. All but one or two UCIL board members, all UCIL executives, and all regular or seasonal employees are Indian nationals.
Indian market for fertilizers and pesticides is expanding as government adopts a range of policies, including efforts to increase yields and reduce post-harvest losses of crops to pests, to make India self-sufficient in food. India had depended heavily on outside food aid in earlier part of the decade, and government wished to end this. The domestic production of pesticides in 1966 is 14,000 metric tonnes, well short of what the government wants to supply to farmers. Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) establishes a new Agricultural Products Division to take advantage of growing Indian market for fertilizers and pesticides. Initial activity involves only local formulation (diluting “technical grade” concentrate to make products for sale to users). UCIL applies for license to carry out the whole production process in India.
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Government of India approves UCIL plans to build fertilizer/pesticide formulation plant in Bhopal. State of Madhya Pradesh leases land in the Kali Parade area of Bhopal for the plant to UCIL on a 99-year lease in an area zoned for industrial use. The area around plant is relatively unpopulated at time though there are two lakes nearby and the main Bhopal railroad station was about 2 miles from the plant site. Total population of City of Bhopal is estimated to be about 300,000 (the 1961 census put it at 102,000 but considerable in-migration from surrounding...
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