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Union Carbide suit charges Indian negligence

Union Carbide Corp. filed a countersuit yesterday charging that the Indian government was partly to blame for the 1984 toxic gas leak in Bhopal. Union Carbide's affidavit alleged the Indian government and the Madhya Pradesh State government contributed to the disaster by their policies, saying they forced Union Carbide's Indian subsidiary to begin making pesticides out of deadly methyl isocyanate gas, which leaked from the plant, rather than importing another gas.

It also said the government allowed ``illegal settlements'' to spring up around the plant.

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India has sued the corporation for $3 billion in damages on behalf of 526,000 claimants. The leak killed more than 2,000 people and injured 200,000. Arguments are scheduled to begin on Jan. 12 .