Navendu Mishra, the Opposition Labour Party Member of Parliament for Stockport, has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons this week on the Bhopal gas tragedy in India, to mark the 38th anniversary of what is widely regarded as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.
The tragedy, which took place on 2 December 1984, occurred in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where an American corporation Union Carbide plant leaked 27 tonnes of the deadly gas, methyl isocyanate. It is estimated that up to 10,000 people died in the first 72 hours of the leak, over half a million people were exposed to the gas, and over 25,000 people died due to gas exposure.
Mishra’s motion calls on “those responsible to be brought to justice so that the victims who have been waiting for 38 years for justice finally receive closure”.
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EDMs are short parliamentary proposals that allow Members of Parliament the opportunity to publicise a cause and are often used to show widespread support for a particular issue. In this instance, the EDM has been signed by 40 Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, including the Scottish National Party’s spokesperson for International Development, Chris Law MP, Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake MP and former Labour leadership contender, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour MP for Ealing, Virendra Sharma, and the Democratic Unionist Party’s Jim Shannon.
Commenting on the EDM, Mishra said: “For too long, the lives of the victims and survivors have been blighted by the after-effects of this great tragedy. They urgently need adequate financial compensation and the best medical care.
“I hope by tabling this motion, Members of Parliament will do more to raise awareness about the campaign for justice and the Government will take the action that is so desperately needed.
“Governments across the world should properly hold Dow Chemicals, the company that bought out Union Carbide, to account.”
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The EDM follows a Westminster Hall parliamentary debate earlier last month on the issue, when Mishra sought Britain's contribution to the campaign for justice in India and for UK government pressure on Dow to face justice in the Indian courts.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, minister of state in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), responded on behalf of the UK government to say: “For many of us — the older ones in the room — the disaster at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal is seared into our memories as one of the worst industrial accidents in history.”