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Proceedings before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal
on January 10 and 11, 2000 in Criminal Case No. RT- 8460/96

 

 

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. Dhalephalkar. Prasad

Ms. Neera Tiwari

Mr. Ravindra Tiwari

________________________________________________________________________

January 10, 2000

Proceedings : Deposition and cross – examination of one witness ; Mr. Suman Dey, Age 42 years, running a mechanical workshop in Bhopal, former Plant Control Room Operator, Union Carbide, Bhopal.

Deposition :

I graduated in science from Calcutta University in 1978. I joined Union Carbide as a trainee plant operator in 1979. At the time of the disaster in December 1984 I was working as Control Room Operator. The Control Room was meant for MIC and Phosgene units. Mr. S. I. Qureshi, (one of the accused in the case) , Production Assistant, was immediate superior in the organization.

There were three tanks in the UCIL plant for storage of MIC. Two of them were supposed to be for storage and one empty as standby.

The Vent Gas Scrubber used to neutralize emissions from the vent and any remaining gases would get burnt off in the flare tower.

On the night of the disaster I was on third shift duty in the control room. The Flare Tower Header was under maintenance. I do not remember well but the Vent Gas Scrubber was possibly not working. Someone informed me on the phone at around 11:50 to 11:30 that there was a MIC leak. I do not remember whether the refrigeration system was working at the time of the disaster or not.

[ After this Mr Sahay from the prosecution asked Mr. Dey a few questions relating to the state of the plant after the leak had been noticed. Meanwhile the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) took exception to people taking notes. The journalist met him in a delegation to resolve the problem. Obscurely, notes were allowed as long as made with pencil! Part of the proceedings, thus could not be recorded.]

I was watching the pressure gauge of the tank and it was up to 40psi and going higher.

Cross-examination:

By Rajendra Singh (leading counsel for the accused)

Rajendra Singh: Is it true that the caustic soda pump in the Vent Gas Scrubber (VGS) was not working after the incident?

Suman Dey: Yes, it was not working after the accident.

RS: The VGS neutralised gases only in small quantities, right?

SD: Yes.

RS: And, what was not neutralised was sent to the flare tower, right?

SD: Yes.

RS: There was a written test before your selection?

SD: Yes.

RS: You passed your BSc in 1978?

SD: Yes.

RS: Your training period was one and a half years?

SD: Yes.

RS: And you were given thorough training?

SD: Yes.

RS: And, you were also trained in both theory and practice of safety measures?

SD: Yes.

RS: In October and November, 1984, the tank pressure was not raised, it was as it should be.

SD: (After going through log sheets.) Yes, it was not raised, it was as it should be.

RS: There is no remark about tank pressure increase in the log sheets.

SD: Yes, there is no such remark.

RS: On 2/ 12/ 84 you joined duty at 11pm.

SD: Yes.

RS: When you came for duty you checked the level, pressure and temperature indicators and they were all normal?

SD: Yes.

RS: At about 12:15 am V.N. Singh told you that there was a smell of MIC leak?

SD: Yes.

RS: Until then everything was normal in the factory?

SD: I do not know about the factory, I was in the control room. In the control room it was normal until then.

RS: V.N. Singh told you that the MIC leak was in the structure, not in the tank.

SD: Yes.

RS: The MIC structure was where MIC was manufactured and the storage tanks were somewhere else, right?

SD: Yes.

RS: When the factory was erected there weren’t many people in the neighbourhood.

SD: I wasn’t there when the factory was erected.

RS: After you joined did you witness growth of settlements near the factory?

SD: Yes.

RS: At the time of the leakage, J. Mukund, R.B. Roychoudhary and S.P Choudhary (some of the accused ) were not there?

SD: That is true they were not there.

RS: In the third shift the factory is under charged of Plant Supervisor and Production Manager, right?

SD: Yes.

RS: All these officials tried their best to stop the leak?

SD: Yes.

RS: There are three tanks for MIC storage, right?

SD: Yes.

RS: Two tanks 610 and 611 contained MIC and 619 was standby?

SD: Yes, it was so.

RS: It was very cold that night?

SD: Yes.

RS: Temperature would be about 7 –8 degrees centigrade?

SD: I can not say.

RS: Thirty TR refrigeration system was to keep MIC at 15 degrees centigrade, right?

SD: Yes.

 January 11, 2000

Proceedings : Deposition and cross – examination of one witness ; Dr S. Varadarajan, head of the 16 member scientific team appointed by the Government of India to look into the causes of the disaster.

Deposition:

I was asked by the Government of India to look into the causes of the incident, which lead to the leakage of toxic material. The names of scientists, who assisted me are listed in the report. Our investigations lasted one year. I was in Bhopal from 5th - 20th December, 1984. At that time the information brochure on MIC was given to me by the Managing Director at the Union Carbide office in Bhopal. There was only one copy in his office, and none in the factory. The brochure contained some information on the methods of storage and properties of MIC. The non-availability of the brochure for the actual staff in the factory and the Government and civic authorities etc was inexplicable. Details of this and other information related to MIC are presented in our report. Some of the design defects we identified in the course of investigation are the use of very large sized tanks for storage of MIC whereas in the beginning storage was in drums of 200 litres. Secondly, there was no method of knowing what was happening inside the tank. MIC was not stored at the low temperature as required. The MIC was stored in unacceptably large quantities for unnecessarily long periods. MIC very easily forms trimers, which are solid crystals that have the potential to block the lines. At the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, the design procedure to deal with such blockages was to dissolve the solid material in water, although it was known that water in contact with MIC will cause an instantaneous exothermic reaction.

The company’s decision to transport MIC by ship and road in 200 litre drums would also be unacceptable in the light of potential hazards during transport. Design defects such as the use of carbon steel in place of superior grade material are also mentioned in our report.

Our report also mentions the alkali scrubbing unit (VGS) where only small emissions could be handled. It was not designed for large emissions or large leakage from the huge quantity of stored material.

Cross-examination.

 

Rajendra Singh: What are your qualifications as a plant engineer of a chemical plant?

 

S. Varadarajan: I was the Chairman and Managing Director of the hundred percent indigenously engineered largest chemical complex in India from 1974 to 1981. I was also Chairman and Managing Director of Engineers India Limited from 1975 to 1978, then again in 1981/2. I was the Chairman of the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad and scientific advisory committees of several ministries. (More on the same vein)

 

RS: In the present case, did you try to contact the designers of this particular plant in America?

 

SV: Our contacts were with the Managing Director of UCIL and we requested all relevant information from him.

 

RS: Do you have any document that states the nature of information you sought from Union Carbide?

 

SV: It was not possible to ask for information with a list.

 

RS: What had approximately five hundred kilograms of water entering tank 610 to do with the gas leak on 2nd / 3rd December, 1984?

 

SV: MIC reacts violently with water creating a lot of heat. A rise in temperature further accelerates the reaction and more heat is generated. Our studies on computer simulation included in volume two of our report also show this.

 

RS: Why was it necessary to cut open the tank for this investigation?

 

SV: There was no other method for getting material out of the tank.

 

RS: A great authority like you could have discovered a way of finding the nature of the material without cutting up the tank.

 

SV: There was no other method.

 

RS: Did you get tanks 611 and 619 also cut open?

 

SV: No, as far as I know there was no evidence of leakage from these tanks.

 

RS: I suggest that the MIC brochure you mentioned was meant only for retail purchasers of MIC from the company.

 

SV: You are welcome to hold your own opinion.

 

RS: At the back of the brochure it says "for information on prices services …, phone or write to the nearest Union Carbide office." Does this suggest to you that the brochure is meant for commercial purchasers?

 

SV: It may be, but this was the only brochure we were given.

 

RS: You are connected with so many installations, can you site any instance where the manufacturers have circulated information on precautions to be taken in case of an accident among the public?

 

SV: Dangers in a factory have to be fully notified to the local authority, Government, factory inspectorate, medical services and such other agencies who may be able to take precautions…(more in the same vein)

 

RS: Can you site a specific instance where any manufacturer has circulated information to the public about precautions to be taken instead of an accident.

 

SV: Companies may pose hazard through storage of toxic material such as carbyl monoxide, phosgene, hydrogen cyanide or in the manufacture and storage of explosives or detonators.

 

RS: Sir, you have not yet told me about any specific instance where any of the numerous companies with which you have been associated who have supplied such information to the general public.

 

SV: None of the companies I was associated with store any of the hazardous materials. They conformed to the law of the land and go beyond to ensure medical health in case of fire, which may occur with hydrocarbons.

 

RS: Can you site any law of the land that requires any gas or chemical plant to circulate information to the public about safety measures in case of an accident in the plant?

 

Prosecution Counsel Mr. Sahay objects saying this is an issue for lawyers to address.

 

Meanwhile SV says: All public authority should be informed.

 

RS: Which law requires this?

 

SV: We employ lawyers to find things like that.

 

RS: Can you state any legal requirement for a gas or a chemical manufacturing factory to inform the public as you have stated.

 

SV: I have not stated public, I have said "public authority". For more information on this legal authorities are the best.

 

RS: Can you site any law or rule that public authorities will be supplied with information by the manufactures.

 

Prosecution objects saying the witness is not a lawyer.

Counsel for the defendant responds saying the questions follow from the statement made by the witness.

Prosecution objection is upheld by the CJM.

 

RS: You mentioned the use of carbon steel in the plant. Did you see it for yourself?

 

SV: Seeing will not help in the identification of the material. The job was assigned to metallurgists and their findings are mentioned in our report.

 

RS: Is this in your knowledge that the plant operated without any accident from 1980 to 1984?

 

SV: So you are telling me. But, I have not seen any clear records of occurrence of accidents – which again is a wide turn.

 

RS: If there were inherent defects in the construction of the plant, can you give us any reason why no serious accident occurred for 4 years.

 

SV: I have no knowledge of what accidents occurred at UCIL, whether they were reported and whether remedial steps were taken.

 

 

 

 

January 11, 2000

 

Proceedings : Deposition and cross – examination of one witness ; Surendra Singh Thakur, Police Sub-Inspector, Police Station Hanumanganj.

 

On the night of the disaster I was moving about when I found that there was a leakage of gas from Union Carbide factory. I went back to my Police Station and from there to the police control room to inform senior officials. I saw widespread commotion wherever I went. A dense cloud had enveloped the city, people were in panic, with burning in the eyes and suffocation. With help from my staff, I gathered as many vehicles possible and sent as many gas affected people away from the city as possible. Between 2 and 3 am I reached Union Carbide factory and met with Security Officer Chouhan and Mr K.V. Shetty. Until then I did not know the name of the gas that had leaked. I was told by the officials of the factory that some MIC gas had leaked, and I was given some information about it. I was at no point of time was I given any information on precautions to take in case of a leakage. I left my subordinate, Mr. Ojha, near the factory and I moved around the nearby areas. I saw many unconscious and dead people. Later, I went inside the factory and on finding J. Mukund, works manager; R. B. Roy Choudhary, assistant works manager; S. P. Choudhary, production manager; K.V. Shetty, plant superintendent and S.I. Qureshi, production assistant prima face negligent I registered a criminal case against them. I also put them under arrest.

I, myself, was affected by the gas, my lungs have been damaged and I am still undertaking treatment. On 4/12/84 after examination of facts the case against Union Carbide was registered under the section concerning ‘causing death by negligence’ and other sections. On 5/12/84 I confiscated reports from the factory from S.P. Choudhary. I left a record of all documents seized, I followed the same procedure for Mr. Anderson. I transferred the case to the CBI on 9/12/84 during my investigations and until the time I was in Haranganj police station no official or any other person from Union Carbide came and told me that MIC leakage was due to some sabotage.

 

 

Cross-examination by Prasad Dakephalkar (PD)

 

PD: Did you claim compensation and have you received it?

 

Surendra Singh Thakur: I have claimed, but not received compensation.

PD: Did you ever try to collect information from the factory?

SST: I used to go to the Union Carbide factory. I knew that it was a factory for pesticides, but I did not know that there were such poisonous chemicals.

 

PD: What was the duration of your investigation?

 

SST: From 3/12/84 to 9/12/84. After this I handed over the case to the CBI.

 

PD: When you found out that gas had leaked from the factory you went to the factory on a motorcycle. Did you put a wet cloth over your face?

 

SST: Yes, I had put a handkerchief.

 

PD: Did you wet it?

 

SST: No.

 

PD: But, in your written statement to the CBI you say that you had put a wet cloth.

 

SST: I do not remember well.

 

PD: I say that you knew that wet cloth could protect you.

 

SST: I felt relieved when I put the wet cloth, but I had no prior information that that would protect me.

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

 

January 11, 2000

 

Proceedings : Deposition and cross – examination of one witness ; Bipin Tiwari, police sub-inspector at the time of the disaster.

 

Deposition

 

I was in Hanumanganj police station from 1983 to 1987. The required paperwork for the people who died that night because of the disaster in the different police station areas were handled by the Talaya police station.

 

[Mr. Tiwari presented papers concerning inquest in several cases of death occurring on 3rd December, 1984.]

 

 

 

January 12, 2000

 

Proceedings : Deposition and cross – examination of one witness: Mohan Lal Varma, aged 40, presently assistant manager District Industries Centre, Hoshangabad.

 

I joined Union Carbide India Limited, Bhopal, on 28/3/77 and worked until 11/7/85. I joined as a trainee operator, and when I left I was operator grade V. On the night of the disaster I was in the MIC plant. From January to March 1983 I was given theoretical training about the MIC plant. After March I stayed in the plant, and finally in November, 1983 got appointed as operator grade V. On 2/12/84 I was on third shift duty, that is from 10:45pm to 6:45am. Mr. Shakell Qureshi was the supervisor and Mr. K.V. Shetty was the plant superintendent and both were on duty that night.

About 12 o’clock – midnight I came to know about the gas leak I was in the plant canteen when I started getting irritation in the eyes. I mentioned this to Mr. V. N. Singh who said that possibly the eye irritation was from Flit that was sprayed to kill mosquitoes. Soon, we were very sure that there was a gas leak. We went towards the plant area, where the intensity was much more. V. N. Singh, R.K. Khamparia and V. Mani went to the MIC plant and I went to the control room. In the control room I met with Mr. Qureshi and Mr. Shetty and informed them about the leakage of MIC in the structure.

During discussions on what to do Qureshi suggested that we start the flare tower, but this could have led to a big fire in the entire factory, so it was abandoned. Then, it was thought that the Vent Gas Scrubber should be started. One operator went to get the VGS pump working but I do not know whether he could get it fixed because that area was getting thickly covered with gas. I ran in the direction opposite to the wind, to a safe place.

On 26/4/83 there was an agreement between the factory management and representatives of the recognised union. In the course of the meeting the management mentioned that the number of operators in the MIC plant would be brought down from eight to six.

The Vent Gas Scrubber was not working at the time of the disaster and the refrigeration system was closed for six months before the disaster.

 

 

Cross-examination

 

D. Prasad (counsel for defendant): You were a BSc when you worked in Carbide?

 

Mohan Lal Varma: Yes.

 

DP: In 1977 when you joined you were in the Naphthol plant and were given theoretical and practical training.

 

MLV: Yes.

 

DP: You mentioned the agreement between management and union. Under the agreement out of eight operators in the MIC plant, six were put in regular staff and two were kept in the common pool, right?

 

MLV: Yes.

 

DP: Whenever required workers from the common pool could be called to the MIC unit?

 

MLV: Yes.

 

DP: In June, 1983 Mr. Satish Khanna was the production superintendent in the MIC plant?

 

MLV: Yes.

 

DP: In June 1983, he had asked you to go to the front end of the MIC plant and you had refused?

 

MLV: I was still under training and could not have taken charge, so I refused to do as directed.

 

DP: On 27/11/84, Shakeel Qureshi, your supervisor asked you to leave the MIC plant and go to the Sevin plant and you refused to go?

 

MLV: Yes, I refused because I was not given a written transfer order.

 

DP: Is it true that after 27/11/84 you were not given any job on the MIC plant by the plant supervisor?

 

MLV: Yes.

 

DP: On 2/12/84 what conversation did you have with Mr. Qureshi?

 

MLV: He asked me when I was going to the Sevin plant and I replied that I would go whenever I was given the written transfer order.

 

DP: On 2/12/84 you were not placed anywhere?

 

MLV: Yes that is true. I was not given any placement.

 

DP: I am suggesting that your stay in the MIC plant that night was not authorised because you had been asked to go to the Sevin plant.

 

MLV: No, it was not unauthorised and I was in the MIC plant because there was no written order for my transfer and I was following my usual work routine in the MIC plant.

 

DP: There are different plants in the MIC plant – the front end, back end, control room, storage area?

 

MLV: Yes.

 

DP: And, different people are put on duty in these different places?

 

MLV: Yes.

 

DP: You were not placed anywhere in particular in any of these places. Were you going all around the plant?

 

MLV: I came on duty to the control room. In the control room, Mr. Dey, control room operator and Mr. C. N. Sen, storage unit operator were also there. Mr. Dey told me Mr. V. N. Singh and Mr. R.K. Kamparia had gone to the MIC plant and I went to join them in their work.

 

DP: Is it true that no one told you to go with V.N. Singh and Kamparia?

 

MLV: Yes, it is true.

 

DP: While moving around the plant, did you ever go to the storage tank area alone?

 

MLV: No.

 

DP: I am repeating my question. While moving around the plant, did you ever go to the storage tank area alone?

 

MLV: No

 

DP: Was Shakeel Qureshi angry with you that night for not going to the Sevin plant.

 

MLV: No, Shakeel was not angry with me.

 

DP: Did you take active interest in union work?

 

MLV: Yes.

 

DP: Didn’t you try to restart the VGS system?

 

MLV: No.

 

DP: Overseeing VGS and Flare Tower is not included in your duties?

 

MLV: Yes, it is not my duty.

 

DP: In the VGS system it was the pump, which was not working?

 

MLV: Yes.

 

DP: If required the pump could be started?

 

MLV: Yes.

 

 

 

 

January 13, 2000

 

Proceedings : Deposition and cross – examination of one witness: P. T. Kuttapan, aged 45, former plant operator, UCIL, Bhopal.

 

 

Depostion:

I passed higher secondary in 1972 and joined UCIL in February, 1977 as trainee plant operator. I was given one years training in alpha Naphthol plant. After training I was posted there as a plant operator. I was posted in the carbon monoxide plant about two years before the disaster. I was not given any training for handling the carbon monoxide plant. I worked as the control room operator in the carbon monoxide plant. In the carbon monoxide plant I was involved with production work. Carbon monoxide used to go to the MIC plant directly. The purpose of the flare tower was to burn off vent gases. The carbon monoxide plant and the MIC plant had a common flare tower.

The flare tower was shut down at least one to two months before the disaster, I cannot remember exactly. Production of carbon monoxide was also stopped and I had nothing specific to do. There were two operators – control room operator and field room operator. The work of burning vent gases from the carbon monoxide plant was the work of the field operator.

At the time of the disaster I was sitting at the carbon monoxide plant, at around 12 I heard the factory siren. About 10 minutes later there was an announcement for workers on the P.A. system. After the announcement we came out of the control room and ran against the direction of the wind towards gate number six.

On the morning of the disaster on the instruction of Mr. Venugopal I accompanied him to examine the cylinder ES34, which is used to ignite the flare tower. I found that the cylinder contained gas.

On 2/12/84 – 10:45pm to 6:45 am, but I stayed on until about 2pm the next day.

 

 

Cross-examination:

 

D. Prasad: You were the control operator in the carbon monoxide plant?

 

P. T. Kuttapan: Yes.

 

DP: What was there in the control room?

 

PTK: Indicators that I used to check.

 

DP: Since when was carbon monoxide production stopped?

 

PTK: I cannot remember for how long.

 

DP: When the carbon monoxide plant was on, the flare tower used to be on, right?

 

PTK: Yes.

 

DP: Was there any repair work on the flare tower on 2 – 3 December, 1984.

 

PTK: I can’t remember any.

 

DP: There were different field operators in your plant and in every shift the flare tower was ignited and checked that it was working?

 

PTK: Yes.

 

DP: At the time of the disaster, the flare tower was on standby, right?

 

PTK: Yes.

 

DP: Who was on duty as field operator that night?

 

PTK: One person called Sanjay Sharma.

 

DP: Did Sanjay Sharma check and ignite the flare tower as usual?

 

PTK: I do not remember. Control room was far away from the flare tower and it was not possible for me to see the field operator working on the flare tower.

 

DP: What gas was there in cylinder ES34?

 

PTK: I do not know.

 

DP: But, the gas in the cylinder was what was used in the flare tower to burn off vent gases.

 

PTK: Yes.

 

DP: And, in the morning of 3rd December when you checked it there was gas in the cylinder?

 

PTK: Yes.

 

DP: And, in the morning of 3rd December when you checked it there was gas in the cylinder?

 

PTK: Yes.

 

 

 

 

January 13 and 14, 2000

 

Proceedings : Deposition and cross – examination of one witness: T.R. Chouhan, aged 45, assistant manager of District Industries and Commercial Centre, Bhopal, former MIC plant operator, UCIL, Bhopal.

 

 

Deposition:

I joined UCIL on 11/8/75 as trainee plant operator. I took training for one year and then it was extended for another six months. I worked in the pilot plant and the Temic plant during training. After this I worked in phase two Sevin plant as chemical plant operator. In 1978, for six months I worked in the alpha Naphthol plant and then was back in the Sevin plant. On March 12, 1982 I was transferred to the MIC plant. I was given a transfer letter that stated that I would have to take six months training and could be a regular plant operator after successful completion of training. I was told to take charge of work during my training itself, which I refused to do because I had not had sufficient training. After this the MIC plant manager, safety manager and personal manager decided that I would be given training for 22 days only in the storage unit and I could take charge of that unit. Until 25November, 1984 I worked in the MIC storage area. After this for two days I was put on day shift as a spare operator. On 27/11/84 I was instructed through a daily note that I was to oversee the work of modification of the Pyrolizer in the day shift.

First and second of December were holidays for me and I stayed home. On 3/12/84 at 8:30 am I reached the factory. Because of the accident no one was allowed to join in the usual work.

Most other operators did not receive training as long as I did. People who had been transferred on 25/10/84 were working as regular operators in November 1984.

The formulation plant in 1969. In this Sevin technical used to be formulated into different products such as Sevin 5W, Sevin 10D, Sevidol and Sevimos.

The Temic plant used to produced granular Temic pesticide. The pilot plant carried out experimental production. When I was working in the pilot plant they were doing experimental production of Sermet – a herbicide.

Alpha-Naphthol plant was started in 1970. There were many problems in running it and normal production was not possible. In 1982 the plant was closed down. Naphthol continued to be imported.

 

The MIC plant started in 1979-80. Prior to that it used to be imported from UCC, USA. The design and technology of the Bhopal factory came from UCC, USA.

 

[Chouhan presented a detailed description of MIC production within the MIC plant, with emphasis on storage and VGS and the flare tower. Chouhan reads out on pp 31 of ‘Job Safety Analysis Manual- MIC unit.’ Reviewed by K.D. Ballal. ‘Neutralisation in the VGS should take place at the rate of 40 gallons per minute for a maximum of 30 minutes. This makes the scrubber temperature go up from 45 to 70 degrees. If the VGS has to be run for long the rate should be nine gallons per minute.’]

 

As per the manual the level of MIC should be 60 per cent in the tank, but in 1983 and 1984 the tank used to be almost always about 80 per cent full. When I joined the MIC plant the Process Vent Header (PVH) and the Relief Valve Vent Header (RVVH) were in place. But in 1983 the plant was shut down for maintenance and PVH and RVVH were connected temporarily to each other through a jumper line.

The operators of the MIC plant used to maintain log sheets that were supposed to record temperature, pressure, flow, level and other parameters periodically. Operational problems encountered were also recorded. When I joined the MIC plant readings used to be taken every two hours. From old log sheets I found that when the MIC plant started readings were actually recorded every hour. Log sheets from one month prior to the disaster show that recording of values was done once in eight hours and only from the equipment that was in working order. As per the operating manual the MIC storage temperature should be less than five degrees centigrade, pressure should be between 15 – 25 psi. I have not recorded temperature of the tank ever because the temperature indicators on the tank do not work.

I went to the USA in 1988 and 1991. In 1988 I went to New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Albany. I was the main speaker at the round table conference entitled ‘Bhopal in India, Bhopal in USA.’ While in the USA I saw a report of safety survey in Carbide’s West Virginia plant in the USA, which was released in September 1984. This report listed the major concerns in running a MIC plant and made recommendations for remedial measures.

In terms of public safety there was a large difference in the design of the storage, safety, operation and capacity of the Bhopal plant and the West Virginia plant. In 1982, after the death of one of our colleagues a safety audit team of experts had come from UCC, USA. The report of the safety audit unit was not shown to the plant operators. After the disaster when I spoke to Granada TV I got a copy of the report from them.

In the first two years of production of Sevin was very good. In 1979/80 when MIC plant was started, Sevin production was also very good. From 1981 production started dropping. Around 15 November there was a sort of a rumour of a proposal by the management to shut down, dismantle and sell the factory. There were several leaks in the factory prior to 1984. In December 1981 there was a leak in the MIC plant during maintenance work. One worker called Asharaf Lala was injured and he later died. In October 1982 there was leakage of toxic gas. Many workers were affected and one supervisor, Mr. Aggrawal, suffered chemical burns. People in the neighbourhood of the factory left their homes and ran away.

I remember that until November 25, 1984 the tanks were completely full and their level indicators had been isolated. The pressure indicators of tanks 611 and 619 also showed normal pressure and the one in tank 610 was indicating positive pressure.

 

 

Cross-examination

 

Rajendra Singh: Where were you at the time of the disaster?

 

T.R. Chouhan: I was at home, sleeping.

 

RS: How much money have you claimed and how much have you got?

 

TR: I claimed more than a lakh and I have received Rs 25,000.

 

RS: What problems did you have?

 

TR: Irritation in the eyes, pain in chest, vomiting and other problems. My family members also suffered.

 

RS: Your family members must have also claimed?

 

TR: Yes.

 

RS: How many have claimed? Please mention each member.

 

TR: My father, mother, elder brother and his wife, their two children, my wife and our two children.

 

RS: How much did each one get?

 

TR: Rs 25,000.

 

RS: Who organised the round table conference in New York?

 

TR: It was organised by the Council of International and Public Affairs. Why were you invited there? I was invited there as a former employee of Union Carbide.

 

RS: Was any body who was on duty on that particular night invited for the conference?

 

TR: No.

 

RS: How were you sent an invitation?

 

TR: After the disaster I met with a journalist of Business India, Mr. Arun Subramanian. He forwarded my name to the organisers of the conference.

 

RS: Were your speeches published anywhere?

 

TR: They must have been.

 

RS: Did you spend any personal money in going to these different places.

 

TR: No.

 

RS: The safety audit team came from UCC?

 

TR: Yes.

 

RS: The plant was designed by UCC?

 

TR: Yes.

 

RS: And their engineers had installed it?

 

TR: Yes, it was done under the guidance of American engineers.

 

RS: Where is Granada TV?

 

TR: I do not know.

 

RS: Is it in America or Spain?

 

TR: I do not know.

 

RS: You mentioned that after the disaster you found from newspaper that the factory was to be sold. Which newspaper was it?

 

TR: I think that it was the Washington Post. Also, Ravivar magazine.

 

RS: The Washington Post is not an Indian newspaper, where did you get it?

 

TR: I got it when I went to the US.

 

RS: The organisation Council of International and Public Affairs, they gave you the newspaper?

 

TR: Yes.

 

RS: The high court decided that Ashraf died of his own negligence. Do you know of this?

 

TR: No, I do not know about it.

 

RS: Ashraf was affected by phosgene and not MIC?

 

TR: Yes.

 

RS: And the accident happened when he was opening a flange with other workers?

 

TR: Yes.

 

RS: You said in 1982 there was a leak in the MIC plant, was it in structure or in storage?

 

TR: It was in structure.

 

RS: Were you present there?

 

TR: No, because it did not happen in my shift.

 

RS: You said that neighbourhood people ran away?

 

TR: Yes, people outside of the factory ran away in panic.

 

RS: Where were you at that time?

 

TR: I was at home.

 

RS: And, your home was four kilometres away from the factory?

 

TR: Yes.

 

RS: You said temperature indicators were not working, for how long were they not working?

 

TR: They were not working since the time I joined in 1982.

 

RS: Did you complain about them?

 

TR: No, I did not give a written complaint.

 

RS: I say that chairman Keshub Mahindra never came to the Bhopal factory.

 

TR: He may or may not have come.

 

RS: The team of technical experts who came from UCC for the technical survey, did you meet with them?

 

TR: No, I did not meet with them.

 

 

January 14 2000

Proceedings : Deposition and cross – examination of one witness: Chandranath Sen, aged 38, presently working as senior agent in General Insurance.