In one of the worst environmental disasters in history, a toxic gas cloud from the plant settled over the town killing an estimated 15,000 with the effects still felt in the form of birth defects and unusually high rates of cancer and other chronic diseases plaguing the town.

The plant was run by Union Carbide at the time and the courts have convicted senior figures in the company from the 80s, including then-chairman Keshub Mahindra.

Back in 1987 India’s equivalent of the FBI, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had originally brought charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, an offence that carriers a jail term of up to ten years.

But by 1996 the courts had watered that down to the lesser offence of death by negligence which carries up to two year in jail.

It was this crime for which the eight were convicted this week.

Twenty years ago Union Carbide paid $470m in compensation to the Indian government and the current owner of the company, Dow Chemicals, says that settlement drew a line under the case.

Sam Bond

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