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Bhopal tragedy: Govt moves SC over compensation claims
April 03, 2007 16:32 IST
Claiming that over 14,000 victims of the infamous 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy were "not traceable," the Centre on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to grant it permission for closing down their compensation claims estimated at Rs 50 crore.
Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Amarender Saran told a Bench of Justices C K Thakker and Altamas Kabir that the 14,000 claimants could not be traced despite the government's best efforts to trace them through newspaper advertisement and notices to their last known addressess.
However, counsels Shamona Khanna and Naveen R Nath appearing for some of the NGOs fighting for the victims' rights, opposed the plea on the ground that no scientific approach was taken by the government in identifying the "untraceable" victims.
Naveen submitted that the "untraceable" victims were seven or eight-year-olds at the time of the tragedy and the government was seeking to identify them now on the basis of their childhood photographs or addressess.
It was argued that tracing victims on the basis of their childhood photos and addressess was an irrational method and an exercise in futility.
According to the counsels, the victims had moved to various other districts of Madhya Pradesh and also other parts of the country in search of employment and hence, renewed efforts should be made by the government to trace them and pay the compensation.
The Bench then directed the NGOs to file its objections and responses in an affidavit and posted the matter for further hearing.
As per the report of the welfare commissioner, Bhopal, out of the Rs 1,542 crore fixed for payment of compensation to 5,72.029 vitims, till date Rs 1491.23 crore has been disbursed to 5,56,850 victims.
There were 17,222 victims who were yet to get the compensation. However, the additional solicitor general had claimed that were only 14,000-odd victims who needed to be paid the compensation.