Union Carbide Corporation owned the plant from which 42 tonnes of leaked toxic methyl isocyanate gas killed at least 4,000 people on December 3, 1984.
Even thirty-three years after the Bhopal gas tragedy – which claimed the lives of at least 4000 people, causing more than 3,900 severe and permanently disabling injuries – survivors of the tragedy still continue their fight for adequate compensation and proper medication.
The Madhya Pradesh government’s Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vishwas Sarang said on Sunday that the victims of the toxic gas leak are not yet adequately paid by the Union Carbide Corporation – the company which owned the plant from which 42 tonnes of leaked toxic methyl isocyanate gas created the mass tragedy on December 3, 1984.
Madhya Pradesh minister Vishwas Sarang has further alleged that the then Congress government at the Centre was more into helping the US company than helping the victims.
“The Central and the state governments, both led by the Congress, helped the then UCC chairman, Warren Anderson, who had come to Bhopal after the tragedy, to escape to the US,” said Sarang.
The kin of the victims who were either severely affected or dead by the toxic gas are now signing a petition to be sent to the Supreme Court. The plea before the apex court will be urging it to start hearing a curative petition of the government filed in December 2010 for more compensation.
According to Sarang, the curative petition seeks a compensation of more than Rs 1000 crore from the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) – which is now owned by Dow Chemicals. Abdul Jabbar, the convenor of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan stated that UCC has only given a compensation of Rs 715 crore for the victim of one of world’s worst disaster.
“We all challenged the meagre compensation in the Supreme Court saying that the number of victims was ‘too high’ and the compensation given by Union Carbide was ‘too small’ in 1989,” said Jabbar.
Stating that the Rs 715 crore-compensation was paid to the families of 15,274 deceased and 5.74 lakh other affected by the leak, Jabbar said that the petition for more compensation was signed by those who were directly affected by the tragedy.
“We moved the apex court again in 2005 saying that the number of victims had swelled fivefold. But nothing has happened after that. So now the sufferers are signing the petition, with a request to the Supreme Court to hear the curative petition and decide the matter at the earliest,” said Jabbar.
Jabbar further blamed the Congress government and the BJP-led NDA government for not doing much to put the prime accused of the tragedy – Anderson – behind the bars. Though the Bhopal court, on June 7 2010, convicted seven executives of the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) and sentenced two years of imprisonment for each, the prime accused in the case didn’t appear before the court and on February 1, 1992, the Bhopal CJM court declared him an absconder.