Union Carbide India Limited

Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) was a chemical company established in 1934, eventually expanding to employ 9,000 people working at 14 plants in five divisions.[1][2] UCIL was 50.9% owned by Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation (UCC) and 49.1% by Indian investors including the Government of India and government-controlled banks.[3] UCIL produced batteries, carbon products, welding equipment, plastics, industrial chemicals, pesticides and marine products.

Union Carbide India Limited
Founded1934 (1934)
FateRenamed Eveready Industries India in 1994
  • batteries
  • carbon products
  • welding equipment
  • plastics
  • industrial chemicals
  • pesticides
  • marine products
Number of employees
9,000 (1994)

In 1970 UCIL built a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, which gained worldwide attention as a result of the Bhopal disaster. On 3 December 1984, a release of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas killed more than 3300 people.[4][5] At the time of the disaster, UCIL was ranked twenty-first in size among companies operating in India. It had revenues of Rs 2 billion (then equivalent to US$170 million).

In 1994, UCC sold its entire stake in UCIL to Mcleod Russel India Limited of Calcutta, which renamed the company Eveready Industries India Limited. The proceeds from the UCIL sale ($90 million) were placed in a trust to fund a hospital in Bhopal to care for victims of the tragedy.

Dangerous impacts of the Bhopal disasterEdit

The Bhopal gas tragedy happened between 2 December 1984 – 3 December 1984 where at least 3,787 lost their life(over 16,000 were claimed) due to the gas leak incident. In February 1989, the Supreme Court of India directed UCC and UCIL to pay $470 million to settle all claims arising from the tragedy. The government, UCC and UCIL agreed with the ruling, and the two companies paid the settlement on 24 February.[6][7]

UCIL maintained a low profile in the post-Bhopal period. The chairman, Keshub Mahindra, and the Bhopal factory manager, J. Mukund, moved on to new positions. Most of the Bhopal plant managers left the company after the plant closed. UCIL closed the pesticide plant and reduced the Research and Development Center in Bhopal to a skeleton staff.

Following the tragedy, the Government of India took control of the property. In 1994, Union Carbide sold its shares in UCIL to McLeod Russell. UCIL was subsequently renamed Eveready Industries India Ltd. (EIIL). As part of this transaction, EIIL became the property leaser and assumed responsibility for the site environmental cleanup. In 1998, the Madhya Pradesh State Government, which owned and had been leasing the property to EIIL, cancelled the lease, took over the facility and assumed all accountability for the site, including the completion of any remediation.

On 14 January 1987, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a decision by the U.S. District Court to send the legal case against UCC to India. It ruled UCIL was a separate and independent legal entity managed and staffed by Indian citizens.

In June 2010, seven former employees of UCIL, all Indian nationals and many in their 70s, were convicted of causing death by negligence and each sentenced to two years' imprisonment and fined Rs.1 lakh (US$2,124 at the then-current exchange rate). All were released on bail shortly after the verdict. The names of those convicted are: Keshub Mahindra, former non-executive chairman of Union Carbide India Limited; V. P. Gokhale, managing director; Kishore Kamdar, vice-president; J. Mukund, works manager; S. P. Chowdhury, production manager; K. V. Shetty, plant superintendent; and S. I. Qureshi, production assistant.


  1. ^ "History of UCIL". Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  2. ^ "Bhopal: The World's Worst Industrial Disaster, 30 Years Later". The Atlantic. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  3. ^ S. Tamer Cavusgil, Gary Knight, John R. Riesenberger, Hussain G. Rammal, Elizabeth L. Rose (2014). International Business. Pearson Australia. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-4860-1138-4.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Fisher, Earleen (15 February 1989). "Union Carbide to Pay $470 Million For Bhopal Disaster". Associated Press. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Bhopal gas leak worst industrial disaster in history, 2,500 people die, injures thousands". India Today. 31 December 1984. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Union Carbide to Pay India Gas Victims $470 Million : Activists Denounce Settlement". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  7. ^ Withnall, Adam (14 February 2019). "Bhopal gas leak: 30 years later and after nearly 600,000 were poisoned, victims still wait for justice". The Independent.

External linksEdit