Corporate responsibility for industrial incidents
Corporate responsibility for industrial incidents

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Corporate responsibility for industrial incidents

5.1 Background to Bhopal

This is a map which names the areas of Bhopal affected by the gas leak. It also outlines the roads, railways, and lakes in the area. The Union Carbide Plant is in the middle of the map. South of the plant are four named areas: railway station, which is closest to the plant, bus station, which is south-west of the railway station, hospital, which is further south and Lower Lake, the southernmost area. These areas are shown as heavily affected areas. West of the hospital is another hospital and westernmost is Upper Lake. These areas are shown within the outline of the approximate spread of gas. An inset map shows more detail of Bhopal's location in India. Bhopal is a city in the state Madhya Pradesh. North of Madhya Pradesh is Delhi.
Figure 4 The area of Bhopal affected by the gas (Sources: BBC News online, 2010, and American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2006, The Accident in Bhopal)

The chemical plant in Bhopal is located to the eastern side of the capital city of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The plant began operations in 1969, producing fertilisers and pesticides for the Indian market. It was part of the Indian government’s initiative to encourage the development of industrial capacity within India rather than relying on imported products. As a consequence, the plant was built and run by Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL), an Indian public company in which Union Carbide, an American company, had a majority shareholding. UCIL had obtained a licence from the Indian government to carry out the production process in India and had a 99-year lease of the site from the regional government of Madhya Pradesh. In 1969 the site was in a relatively unpopulated area of Bhopal zoned for industrial use. However, by the time of the gas leak in 1984 this area had been densely populated by people squatting in unauthorised shanty towns.

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