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Issue 28
August , 2010
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Government admits Bhopal guilt

Source: The Tribune, Date: August , 2010

The Government, for the first time, has accepted the guilt of Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Replying to a day-long debate on the subject, Home Minister P Chidambaram told Parliament : “I hope that 25 years later we can all look back with a deep sense of regret and guilt that we did not address the issue as we should have.”

The Home Minister, who chaired the GoM on Bhopal Gas Tragedy set up recently after the court let off the accused in the episode after 25 years with a light sentence, announced that the Government had enhanced the compensation amount awarded by the Supreme Court to the dead from Rs one lakh to Rs 10 lakh and in the same proportion to the injured and others affected.

He also dealt at length on how subsequent governments since 1984, including those led by the Opposition, had treated the issue in a cavalier fashion and added, “We should approach the subject with certain amount of humility.”

He, however, insisted that neither the Centre nor the Madhya Pradesh government had anything to do with the compensation amount as it was decided by the Welfare Commissioner.

Earlier, Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Srikant Jena detailed the House that the compensation issue was decided exclusively by the judicial officers. He also stated that the demands made by the Opposition had already been met by the Government.

Initiating the debate, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj accused the Centre of bartering away victim’s interests to Union Carbide, and suggested a unanimous resolution of the House to quash the 1989 “out-of-court agreement” between the Government and Union Carbide that was let off for Rs 615 crore (divided among 5.5 lakh victims) where the original compensation claim was worth Rs 3,900 crore.

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