UPA government agrees to gas victims’ demand for setting up of a special commission

May 29th, 2008 - 7:03 pm ICT by admin  

Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 29 (ANI): After a long wait, victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, got some relief on Thursday, when the Central government decided to grant their demand of setting up a special commission that would take care of the rehabilitation, employment of the affected people in Bhopal.

The victims have been struggling for last few months demanding justice and also action against companies like Dow Chemicals, new owners of Union Carbide responsible for the world’s worst industrial disaster.

They had tried twice to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make their pleas heard.

In a sudden relief to the victims, the Prime Minister’s Office sent an emissary to the victims with an assurance from the government of complying with their demand of setting up the commission.

On the demand for setting up a specially empowered commission to carry out medical, economic, social and environmental rehabilitation of Bhopal gas victims, the central government is in principle agreement with this demand. The government, will take initiative in setting up such a commission, said Prithviraj Chauhan, emissary, Prime Minister’s Office.

Though the survivors of the tragedy were quite elated with the government’s initiative to grant their demand, they, however, said that they would continue their struggle until their demand of not allowing Dow Chemicals to expand its operation in India is met by the government.

They have only agreed to one of our demands, as for other demands they said they are pondering over them. We will wait till we get an answer from the government on our other demands, said Satinath Sarangi, an activist.

More than 3,500 people died in the days and weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plan in Bhopal on the night of December 2,1984.

Officials say nearly 15,000 people have died since from cancer and other diseases.

Activists have put the toll at 33,000 and claim that toxins from thousands of tonnes of chemicals lying in and around the site have seeped into ground water.

Union Carbide in 1984 accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a 100 million dollars charitable trust fund to build a hospital for victims. Later Union Carbide was taken over by Dow Chemicals.

The company also paid 470 million dollars to the Government in 1989 in a settlement reached after a protracted legal battle. The victims, on an average, received 25,000 rupees in case of illness and 100,000 rupees or so in case of a death in the family.

Michigan-based Dow Chemical says it is not responsible for the clean-up as it never owned or operated the plant. The Madhya Pradesh state government now owns the abandoned plant. (ANI)

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