The Group of Ministers constituted to look into the measures to be taken on the Bhopal gas leak accident has finalized its recommendations. Some of the steps suggested such as the curative petition against the order of the Supreme Court of March 1997, the restarting of the unit of the Indian Council of Medical Research and the takeover of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust are welcome.
However, there are two serious problems regarding the recommendations. Firstly, the compensation package offered is based on flawed estimation of deaths and injuries and the amount of compensation offered remains meager. Secondly, there is no serious effort to make the Dow Chemical Company, which took over the Union Carbide, liable for the damages and compensation. The entire expenses for the remediation and environmental clean up at the Bhopal factory site should be borne by the Dow Chemical Company.
The Dow Chemical has invested and set-up a number of enterprises in India. It is on record that the Indian government has promoted such investments. Surely, the government can take a firm stand asking the Dow Chemical to pay up, failing which the company can be blacklisted and measures taken against it. It is not enough to pursue the long pending case in a court in Madhya Pradesh.
In view of the vital issues of providing justice and adequate compensation to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy and the implementation of the “polluter pays principle” in full, the government should call a meeting of all political parties and representatives of the gas victims to discuss the recommendations of the GoM before the Union Cabinet takes a decision.