The Indian government has sharply criticized Union Carbide Corp. for releasing what it called an "unjustified and unacceptable" report on the fatal gas leak at Bhopal, India last December.

In a statement issued by an Indian Embassy spokesman in Washington, the government said that Carbide had released a "so-called report which by its own admission has been prepared without knowledge of the full facts relating to the tragedy."

The unusually strong comments were in response to statements by Carbide officials this week that Indian managers of Union Carbide India Ltd., rather than U.S. company executives, were responsible for unsafe conditions at the plant which contributed to the accident.

Asked for comment, Carbide spokesman Tom Failla said yesterday, "We'll stand by the report. The report speaks for itself."

Carbide's report, based on its investigation into the causes of the accident, concluded that the release of deadly methyl isocyanate from the Bhopal plant was caused by a large volume of water that was "inadvertently or deliberately" introduced into a MIC storage tank.

The mixture of water and MIC with another chemical in the tank triggered a runaway reaction that leaked a cloud of MIC from the plant, killing at least 2,000 people.

The report also appeared to leave open the possibility of sabotage.