The central government has decided to hike the compensation for the kins of those who died in the Bhopal Gas tragedy to Rs 10 lakhs per person. Coming 20 years after the first compensation package of $470 million was decided in 1989, this decision is likely to give rise to confusion about the number of claimants. “They are only thinking of about 5000 victims right now but the actual number is much higher. Similarly, officially there are only 40,000 listed as permanently affected but the number which goes to hospitals each day runs into lakhs so they all should be designated as victims. So we will comment only after we receive a copy of the GoM report,” said ND Jayprakash of Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sehyog Samiti.
The group of Ministers on Bhopal was constituted after the public outrage on the June 7 verdict in the Bhopal case. The mandate of the GoM was to look into the compensation, clean-up and remediation of the factory site, extradition of Union Carbide’ ex-chairman Warren Anderson and increasing punishment for the Indian accused. P.Chidambaram, the head of the GoM, announced in the morning that the Madhya Pradesh government will undertake the site clean-up plan with technical and financial help from the Centre. 350 tones of hazardous waste lying packed up on the site will be taken to Peethampur near Indore while the contaminated soil at the site will be treated there itself.
Dow has not been asked to pay for the clean-up straightaway but it was said that the case against the company will continue in the MP high court. The Minsitry of Chemicals and Fertilizers had asked Dow to pay an advance amount of Rs 100 crore for the clean-up in 2005. Chidambaram also said that they will again pursue the issue of Anderson’s extradition again with the US government in the light of evidences recorded in the June 7 verdict. There was also a talk of filing a curative petition in the Supreme Court against their 1996 order that diluted the charges on the Indian accused to section 304 A from Section 304-II.
The GoM’s recommendations would be presented to the Cabinet on Friday. “Before that, the report should be placed before the representatives of all parties as well before the victims’ organizations whose opinions should be considered too,” said Jaiprakash.
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