The victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy were not adequately paid by Union Carbide Corporation, the Madhya Pradesh government’s Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vishwas Sarang told PTI on Sunday.
The corporation – a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company – owned the plant from where 42 tonnes of toxic methyl isocyanate gas leaked in the early hours of December 3, killing at least 4,000 people.
The families of those who died and those affected by the disaster are now signing a petition, requesting the Supreme Court to begin hearing a curative petition filed by the government in December 2010 demanding more compensation from Dow.
In 2011, the Supreme Court had dismissed a petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation, challenging the 1996 judgment and review order of the top court, in which Justice AM Ahmadi had diluted the charges against the accused from Section 304(II) to 304A of the Indian Penal Code.
“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 Abdul Jabbar, the convenor of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan.
He said nothing had happened since the petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 2010. “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,” Jabbar added.
“Even after 33 years, the condition of the victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy is the same because of the negligence of both the central and state governments,” ANI quoted an unidentified activist as saying. Many also criticised the Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to organise a half marathon on the anniversary of the tragedy.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan attended a prayer meeting organised by representatives of all the major faiths.
Speaking at the event, he said he prayed that such a disaster never occurs again anywhere in the world. “Blindly pursuing development results in such tragedies,” he said. “That is why there needs to be a balance between development and the environment.”