India to better compensate Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims

17:04, June 26, 2010      

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After 25 long years, the Indian government has decided to better compensate Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims.

The Indian government has also decided to ask the US for extradition of Warren Anderson – the chairman of Union Carbide, the company responsible for the fatal disaster.

The Indian cabinet of ministers met a day earlier than scheduled to decide on the fate of victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, but sadly the decision came 25 years late.

The government gave a package that will cost it 280 million dollars.

Butthe package will include only 45,000 severe victims and not the total 5,75,000 people affected by it.

The Indian government will also push to extradite Union Carbide’s Chairman Warren Anderson.

He has ignored a series of court summons to stand trial in India.

Analysts have increasingly been critical of Indian government on its response to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy compared to US’s response to British Petroleum’s oil spill.

Ambika Soni, Indian Information & Broadcast Minister, said, "We will push for extradition for Warren Anderson. A special group will look into it and will talk to US to get him to India."

A pesticide plant 51-percent owned by Union Carbide spewed 40 tonnes of toxic gas into residential areas of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh state in December 1984.

The gas killed thousands instantly and tens of thousands more from its after effects over the following years.

New federal funds will double the compensation for the families of the dead to 22,000 dollars.

Funds will also be used to upgrade local hospitals and set up a research centre in Bhopal, while the still-toxic site of the factory will finally be cleaned up and dismantled by the end of 2012.

P. Chidambaram, Indian Home Minister, said, "22 recommendation given and that it is the most important."

In a move certain to provoke a legal struggle with Union Carbide and its new owner Dow Chemical, the Indian government would try to explore the possibility of extracting more compensation.

Union Carbide struck a 470-million-dollar out-of-court settlement with the Indian government in 1989, which absolved it of further responsibility for the medical costs or clean-up of the site.

Dow Chemical has rejected any further liability since then.

Indian government will also petition the Supreme Court to reconsider charges against the Union Carbide bosses, which were reduced to criminal negligence with a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

"25 years after one of world’s worst industrial disaster…the Indian government decided on better compensation for victims and extradition of Union Carbide’s then chairman Warren Anderson. But this decision raises more questions than answers. Why did it take quarter of a century to reach this decision? What about the implementation and most importantly will United States of America ever agree for extraditing Warren Anderson?

Source: CNTV. com


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