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NGOs not happy with aid package on Bhopal

June 25, 2010 20:30 IST

Not satisfied with the Centre's relief package, seven organisations championing the cause of Bhopal gas victims on Friday criticised the government for not considering their objections to some of the recommendations by the Group of Ministers looking into the issue.

The organisations, demanding "re-categorisation" of the injured, said the financial package approved by the Cabinet yesterday was not enough.

However, the organisations welcomed the Cabinet decision to push for extradition of then Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson in the Bhopal case.

"We welcome the government's attempt to extradite Warren Anderson but he was not the only Union Carbide official responsible for the disaster. The CBI has failed to name the other concerned officials of the UCC," Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action said.

The Union Cabinet decided to push for extradition of Anderson and ascertain the liability of Dow Chemicals besides announcing a Rs 1265.56 crore package for relief and remediation. The Union Cabinet, which considered the report of the Group of Ministers on the 1984 disaster, accepted all its 22 recommendations but did not fix liability on anybody.

Demanding re-categorisation of victims, the groups said their demand for compensation to those who were left out from any assistance should be considered by the government. "The financial package is not enough for distribution among all 5,74,367 gas victims. It will only cover 45,166 people. Most of the victims would be left out," N D Jayprakash of Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Shayog Samiti said.

"More than 150,000 who are still seeking medical treatment were denied compensation as they were categorised as temporarily injured. We demand re-categorisation of victims," he said. The groups also hailed the GoM's recommendation to reopen medical research work by ICMR and demanded an inquiry into why it was stopped in 1994.

The organisations also claimed that Rs 300 crore sanctioned for cleaning up toxic wastes is without any basis as neither the Centre nor the state possesses any technical "know-how". They also rejected National Environmental Engineering Research Institute's statement that groundwater outside the factory is not contaminated by Carbide's waste, which the GoM has accepted.

The report submitted by NEERI is worthless. It has been rejected by 13 more studies -- by both governmental and non-governmental agencies," said Dhingra.

She said that there is a "dichotomy" in UPA's stand in nailing Union Carbide and its present owner Dow Chemical. Dhingra said Dow Chemical's contention that it was not subject to jurisdiction of Indian courts was "not acceptable". The groups said that the government has failed to outline any mechanism to produce UCC in court or make Dow Chemical submit to jurisdiction of courts.

Rashida Bee, an activist of one of the organisations fighting for the victims, said "the Centre's assistance to Madhya Pradesh government for providing economic, medical and social rehabilitation" did not yield any results till today. They demanded an all party committee with representatives of victims to look into various issues related to Bhopal tragedy, while saying that they had submitted a set of recommendations to Law Minister Veerappa Moily prior to the GoM meet but it was "not considered".

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