Payback time

It may no longer be a losing battle. Amid much protests, a lawsuit filed by a group of Ecuadorians against the us-based oil major ChevronTexaco Corporation has been shifted to an Ecuadorian court from a us federal court. The lawsuit alleges that the company's drilling operations resulted in large-scale environmental damage in the region in the 1970s. The next hearing is to take place in the town of Lago Agro, which is said to have suffered the maximum destruction.

In 1993, the plaintiffs had filed the case against Texaco. The company had ended its operations in Ecuador in the same year. Texaco was bought over by Chevron in 2001, resulting in the formation of the second largest oil company in the us.

The plaintiffs are demanding us $1 billion in damages. They allege that the company took advantage of lax environmental standards in Ecuador and dumped toxic waste into open pits. For its part, ChevronTexaco has denied having contaminated land and waterbodies.