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Proceedings before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal

on March 6,7 and 8, 2000 in Criminal Case No. RT- 8460/96

 

 Latest depositions in the Bhopal Criminal Case against Union Carbide 8 March, 2000.

State Versus Keshub Mahindra and other accused

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Bhopal, Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti, New Delhi and Bhopal Group for Information and Action, Bhopal [Assisting the Prosecution]

Chief Judicial Magistrate : Mr. L. D. Borasi

Counsels for the prosecution : Mr. C. Sahay [Special Public Prosecutor]

                                                Mr. U. S. Prasad [Public Prosecutor]

Counsel for the accused : Mr. Rajendra Singh

                                    Mr. Dhakephalkar. Prasad

                                    Mr. Ajay Gupta

Ms. Neera Tiwari

March 6

Deposition of prosecution witness of Madangopal Parashar (55) son of Kashi Ram Parashar resident of RB-IV 408-b Shakti Nagar, Railway Colony, Habibganj, Bhopal 462 024.

 I work as sub-assistant stationmaster in Bhopal station in 1984. On the night of 2-3 December, 1984 I was on duty from 1am to 7am. My job was arranging reception and dispatch of trains. I used to sit in my office on platform number one. There are two cabins on either side, B and D.

Train movement is coordinated with help from staff in cabins B and D. I signed on in the ‘on duty register’ (exhibit 1136) about 15 minutes after coming in I felt acute burning in eyes, suffocation, choking and coughing. I spoke to people in cabin B and D. They also complained on similar health problems.

The first train on my duty was 116 up, Kushinagar Express from Bina side. This train came at 1.35 – all the passengers were coughing violently and I realised something was very wrong. There was one down train too - a goods train called Khanna special. Another down train, Mathura special was given ‘line clear’ but it stayed at the outer signal until 8am. All other train movements were stopped up and down the line. This was because the cabin staff were not in a condition to work.

The deputy station superintendent was Mr Gulam Dastgir, he was on duty from 12.30 to 8.30 am. He was in charge of attendance, allocation of jobs and outdoor supervision of trains. Mr Dastgir was also badly affected by the gas and he lost consciousness at about 1.30am in his office. He regained consciousness at around 5am.

The station superintendent was Mr. H. S. Dhurve. He was at his residence and I spoke to him on the phone. He said ‘I am also affected by the gas and we will try to come to the station’. At 3.30am his wife informed that he had collapsed.

I myself fell unconscious at around 5 to 5.15 am. I became conscious at around 6.30am were I found myself in the mortuary amongst heaps of dead bodies. Later I was admitted to Jaiprakash hospital. I remember at 5 o’clock our General Manager, Gaurishankar, came from Bombay. His special train was stopped at Sukhi Sewania. He disconnected the engine and rode on it with a railway doctor to the station. He saw me and the last thing that I remember was he was instructing someone to take me to the hospital.

 

Cross examination by Mr. Rajendra Singh

Rajendra Singh: Have you claimed compensation?

Madangopal Parashar: Yes.

RS: Did you get any compensation?

MGP: Rs 35,000 as final payment.

RS: When did you notice the gas?

MGP: I felt it around 1.15am.

RS: Was Gulam Dastgir in your office when he fell unconscious?

MGP: Yes.

RS: When did he fall unconscious?

MGP: At about 1.30 am.

RS: What is the distance between the MIC plant and the station.

MGP: 1km as the crow flies.

RS: Which direction?

MGP: The plant is to the west of the station.

 

March 7 2000

Deposition of prosecution witness of Vinod Kumar Tyagi, son of B.S. Tyagi, resident of 963- Z, Timarpur, Delhi 110 064.

I am an assistant director (technical) in the department of chemicals and petrochemicals, ministry of chemicals and fertilisers.

From March 1990 to April 1984 I worked as an assistant development officers in the directorate general of technical development (DGTD). DGTD was wound up in 1994. All technical matters were examined by me, I was expected to offer technical opinion of specific technologies, industrial licensing, export import and registration of industries.

Mr. M. R. Narayanan was the development officer in DGTD who retired in April or May, 1990. All files pertaining to Union Carbide was under his charge and after his retirement they were with me until 1994.

For chemical and other industries the department of industrial development gives license. There is a prescribed proforma E-1 under which an application is made. In this the applicant mentions the equipment, requirements, technical capability, details of directors and foreign capital involvement. This application is sent for comments by the ministry of industries to various ministries and departments. An inter-ministerial committee decides on the applications after taking into consideration all comments received. In case an application is granted a letter is issued with certain conditions. The company is given a license after it agrees to these conditions. Usually such a license is valid for two years. The company has to start production within two years afterwards, but if it cannot it can ask for an extension.

License to Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) was given on the basis that they will produce MIC based pesticides in technical collaboration Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). For foreign collaboration a company has to file application in a standard format. The company has to mention clearly the technical competence of the foreign company, the royalty to be paid in lieu of technical know how. This has to be presented before the industrial before the department of industrial development along with the understanding reached by the company and its foreign collaborator. Certain conditions mostly related to payment of foreign exchange are part of the application.

UCIL applied for foreign collaboration on 4.9.72. On 29.11.72 the company claimed that their foreign collaborator had technical know how for many years and successfully produced MIC based pesticides. As per the technical know how made available by the foreign company UCIL said they will be able to produce MIC based pesticides on their own.

On 29.12.72 UCIL sent a letter to the ministry of chemicals and petrochemicals with the technical services agreement signed between UCC and UCIL. On 25.8.73 UCIL was granted permission to collaborate with the parent company subject to conditions laid down in this agreement. A fresh license was issued by the government on 31.10.75 in response to UCIL’s request seeking changes in the license already granted. In this license in addition to other conditions the applicant was required to produce an under taking that they will do their best to stop pollution of air, water and soil. This license was granted for two years and then extended several times at UCIL request. Because UCIL did not start production by the appointed date on 20.9.78 it applied for extension of license. This extension was granted on 12.10.78. Similar application was submitted by UCIL on 24.9.79, another extension was granted on 29.12.79. This extension was valid until 30.6.80.

The company finally sent a letter dated 19.2.80 to formally inform the government that MIC production was started on 5.2.80. On 30.9.82 UCIL applied for renewal of foreign collaboration because applicants had started MIC production only in 1980. The letter was sent to the secretariat for industrial approvals, foreign collaboration section, department of industrial development, ministry of industries. On 24.3.83 extension of foreign collaboration was granted until January 1985.

In none of the applications for grant of license or renewal of license did UCIL mention how toxic MIC is or what the health effects from exposure to MIC are.

Cross examination by Rajendra Singh.

Rajendra Singh: You have no personal knowledge of any of the things you have said you are just reading out from documents, are you?

Vinod Kumar Tyagi: Yes.

RS: Did these letters from the government carry any questions for UCIL regarding the nature of MIC and its health effects and treatment.

 

VKT: No, there is no such question.

 

RS: The license that you mentioned is given only for production of toxic substances, isn’t it?

 

VKT: No, license is required for any kind of production.

 

RS: Does the government monitor whether conditions are being fulfilled?

 

VKT: Yes. The government regularly monitors on a prescribed format. But there is no on the spot examination. Monitoring is done on the basis of information submitted by the company from time to time.

 

RS: Do you have a rule that says there shall be no on the spot investigation?

 

VKT: There is no such rule but the standard procedure is six monthly monitoring on the basis of written information.

 

RS: The government does not check whether conditions are actually being followed in the factory.

 

VKT: I have no knowledge of this.

 

RS: In the granting of license there is condition number five that mentions that control of air, water and soil pollution must be to the satisfaction of the government. How then does the government satisfy itself?

 

VKT: The central government directs the state government to ensure that conditions are being followed.

 

RS: Before licenses are renewed or extended does the licensing authority check whether previous conditions have been satisfied?

 

VKT: Whenever the authorities are presented with applications for renewal or extension the government verifies whether the manufacturing company had fulfilled the conditions. I have no personal knowledge about how it is done.

 

RS: Did you know that MIC is a highly toxic gas?

 

VKT: No, I did not.

 

RS: Where were you in 1984?

 

VKT: In December, 1984 I was in the Small Scale Industry department. From 1980 to 1990 I was posted as Small Industries promotion officer and assistant director.

 

RS: Until 1990, you did not have any information on MIC?

 

VKT: Only through press reports. I was not officially informed about the nature of MIC.

 

RS: When licenses are granted the expert committee reviews the application, doesn’t it?

 

VKT: DGTD has a technical committee. But other committees are also involved in licensing.

 

RS: Scientists of high calibre were part of this committee in DGTD.

 

VKT: Yes, there are technical as well as administrative personal in this committee.

 

RS: Wasn’t there any scientist in this technical committee who knew about MIC?

 

VKT: I cannot say.

 

RS: These papers you presented today, when did you first see them?

 

VKT: In 1990.

 

RS: What were you in 1990?

 

VKT: I was an assistant development officer.

 

RS: What was your job?

 

VKT: My job was scrutiny of documents to see whether a particularly technology is feasible, whether a proposal is technically correct and check with the situation regarding supply of the said product in the country.

 

RS: Like you other officers would have checked licensing applications from 1975 to 1984?

 

VKT: Yes.

 

RS: Among the documents you presented you must have seen the technical collaboration agreement. All information is given in there?

 

VKT: That is not true. Technological details are not mentioned in these documents.

 

_________________________________________________________________

March 8 2000

Deposition of prosecution witness Daulat Singh (45), Police Sub-Inspector, Indore.

In December, 1984 I was posted as Assistant Sub-Inspector at Hanumanganj Police Station. I was on duty at my police station on the intervening night 2-3 December, 1984. At about 1 – 1.15am I felt burning in my eyes and extreme difficulty in breathing. I wetted a handkerchief and washed my eyes and covered my nose.

At about 1.05am I received a wireless message from the Police Control Room. At 1.15am this information was recorded in our register (exhibit 1159) by our head Muharrir.

The UCIL factory is about 2-3km from my police station. We received no information from Union Carbide regarding the nature of gas/chemicals manufactured in the factory. On the night of the disaster Union Carbide gave us no information about the gas leak or about how to protect oneself from the gas. After receiving information from the control room I went towards Union Carbide with S. P. Ojha and Kripa Shankar. Our departure was marked at 1.02am in the daily diary (exhibit 1159) on page 62 by Mr. Gopal Singh Thakur. On our way to UCIL I found people running chaotically on Chhola road. Most were on foot, but there were people on bicycles and vehicles too. We stopped at several places and advised people to go to Hamidia hospital. We have great difficulty in reaching the factory.

Apart from the crowd all of us were acutely breathless. We found the main gate of the factory locked and a security guard on duty. The public and policemen were being prevented from going inside the factory. We asked the people who had crowded at the gate to disperse.

At about 2-2.30am Mr. S.S. Thakur went in to the factory. Later Mr. Thakur went to Hamidia hospital and I joined him, leaving S. P. Ojha at the factory. At Hamidia hospital I saw heaps of dead bodies, by order of the superintendent of police the work of establishing identity of the dead and carrying out other necessary procedures was given to Tallaya police station and we were asked to verify their work.

I personally verified many dead bodies in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and the subsequent years, including corpse numbers 101/84, 120/84, 184/84, 208/84, 247/84, 437/84, 74/85, 77/85 and 3/86. For establishing identity of the dead I questioned several witnesses and the inquest report is presented in court. Inquest reports were also prepared by Hoshla Prasad Shukla and G.S. Thakur.

Cross examination by Ajay Gupta

Ajay Gupta: Did you go to the factory prior to the disaster?

 

Daulat Singh: No, it was not required of me to go there.

 

AG: Did you know that there was a dispensary in the factory?

 

DS: I did not know, I cannot say.

 

AG: Were people not being treated at the dispensary on the morning of the disaster when you reached there?

 

DS: I cannot tell.

 

AG: I state that people were indeed getting medical relief at the dispensary.

 

DS: I cannot say whether people were going to the dispensary.

 

AG: Did you not tell the CBI, as shown in your written statement, that local residents were getting relief and treatment at the dispensary.

 

DS: I do not remember.

 

AG: Did you tell the CBI that at the dispensary people were being given treatment and advised to wash their faces.

 

DS: I do not remember whether I had said it when my statement was being recorded.

 

AG: You washed your face that night, didn’t you?

 

DS: Yes.

 

AG: Did you have any information on the products manufactured in the factory?

 

DS: No.

 

AG: Have you filed your claim for compensation?

 

DS: Yes.

 

AG: Did you receive compensation?

 

DS: Yes.

 

March 8 2000

Deposition of prosecution witness Gopal Singh Rajput (46), Sub-Inspector of Talaya Police Station.

I was at Bajaria Police Station from July 1983, until March 1985 as provisional sub-inspector. I was on night duty on the 2-3 December, 1984. On that night a large number of people were killed by the gas cloud from Union Carbide’s factory. I among others, established the identities and prepared inquest reports on dead persons. The inquest reports have been presented before the court as exhibit 1281 and others.

 


Sixty eight prosecution witnesses have deposed so far in the case, 20-30 more witnesses are yet to testify. Deposition for witnesses for the defense will follow.

 

Next hearing on 4/5.5.2000.

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