Quick progress

Published: Monday 30 November 1992

After years of inaction, things seem to be moving with lightning speed in Bhopal. The Supreme Court has directed the Reserve Bank of India to transfer the money paid by Union Carbide as compensation to welfare commissioner A G Qureshi for payment to victims after the processing of claims. Almost simultaneously, the Permanent People's Tribunal (PPT), an international panel of experts headquartered in Rome, met in Bhopal to pass a final verdict on the 1984 gas disaster.

The PPT blamed the disaster solely on Union Carbide Corp (UCC) and its Indian subsidiary, Union Carbide (India) Limited, for the design and operation of the Bhopal factory. It indicted the Central and state governments on human rights violations under international law and the Indian constitution. The tribunal recommended the controversial categorisation by the state government, under which 92 per cent of the victims were classified as having suffered temporary or no injuries, be reviewed by an international commission. Forty-four per cent of the claimants have yet to be classified and it is alleged the categorisation was done to fit the low compensation bill paid by UCC. The tribunal also said an international centre for research, information exchange and analytical services on industrial and environmental hazards should be set up at Bhopal.

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