‘Commission for victims 24 years after Bhopal gas tragedy meaningless’

August 9th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Aug 9 (IANS) The central government’s assurance of setting up a commission to look into the grievances of the Bhopal gas tragedy victims 24 years after the disaster occurred has not gone down well with the Madhya Pradesh Gas Relief Minister Babulal Gaur, who termed the move “meaningless”. “Setting up a commission now is meaningless,” Gaur told IANS Saturday.

The tragedy occurred when more than 40 tonnes of lethal gases spewed out of Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in December 1984 killing over 15,000 people instantly and maiming thousands of others for life.

Officials say nearly 15,000 more have died of various diseases since then but activists put the toll at 33,000 and claim that toxins from thousands of tonnes of chemicals lying in and around the plant site have seeped into groundwater.

Activists have also been demanding the formation of an empowered commission to look into various aspects of the tragedy.

Giving in to demands of the survivors, the central government Friday announced that an empowered commission will be set up to look into all aspects of rehabilitation of the victims and cleaning-up of hazardous waste lying in the area.

“The Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted to oversee the matters related to the 1984 gas leak disaster has decided that an Empowered Commission will be set up,” Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told activists at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar where the survivors of the country’s worst industrial disaster have been protesting for the last 130 days.

Gaur however pointed out that there were already umpteen committees set up by the Supreme Court and the central and state governments for gas victims. “The centre should instead provide funds to the state government for the welfare of gas victims.” he said.

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