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Bhopal gas victims to move SC for relief

Ipsha | December 09, 2004 17:53 IST

The claims court distributing the remaining compensation among the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy has come in for criticism.

At a press conference in Bhopal on Thursday, Abdul Jabber, convenor of the Bhopal Gas Peedhit Mahila Udhyog Sangathan, spoke of approaching the Supreme Court, as the claims court was harassing the victims.

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They were being asked to produce documents dating back to 1984, he said, despite the fact that their cases were settled and their injury (loss) decided last time when compensation was given.

"How do you expect a slum-dweller, already confronted with so many problems, to keep the papers safe so many years?" he asked.

The money being distributed now, since November 15, 2004, following an SC order, is the balance of the settlement amount of $470 million deposited by the Union Carbide in the Reserve bank of India following an agreement with the Centre in 1989.

While the victims were compensated in the nineties, the amount remaining with the RBI hadgrown toRs 1,567 crore by July 2004, when the SC ordered its disbursement on pro-rata basis.

The victims expect to receive between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh or even more according to the number of members in their family.

The office of the Bhopal Gas Victims' Welfare Commissioner, Jabbar said, was also liable to be prosecuted for contempt, as the SC had stated that the compensation be distributed on pro-rata basis, which means that same amount be given to the same person as per the decision taken by the claims court last time.

Jabbar said that the only thing that the claims court should do this time is establish the identity of the person -- whether s/he is the same person who got the compensation last time - and provide the cheque.

"But they are being asked to produce documents as old as ration card of 1984," he said. "We are going to challenge all this in the Supreme Court if things do not improve in three days. Besides, we will go to high court to plead that compensation should also be provided to those 40,000 victims who were denied the same last time."

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