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28 years on, justice remains elusive for Bhopal gas tragedy victims
28 years have passed since the Bhopal gas tragedy took place, but it is unfortunate that victims are yet to receive justice from the government. Even though people have been holding protest demonstrations and cases have been heard in various courts, justice is still elusive.

THE PESTICIDE manufacturing plant of Union Carbide India Ltd leaked deadly methyl-isocyanate gas at 12:10 am on 3 December 1984. The gas was carried to the neighbouring highly-populated slum by winds, exposing more than half a million people to its deadly effects.

According to government records, about 3, 500 people died in this accident, though human rights activists put the figure at 8000. The figures are increasing since then as about 25,000 people have died since then.

Bhopal gas tragedy is referred to as the most frightful industrial catastrophes in the history of the world. and unfortunately, the government has failed to provide relief and justice to the survivors of the victims of the disaster. As UCIL was the subsidiary of UCC (Union Carbide Corporation), which is a US-based organization, the government passed an order notifying UCC to pay rupees 350 crores as a relief fund to the victims, but the latter refused to pay the amount. In 1989, the Supreme Court again ordered UCC to pay $470 millions as a full and final settlement for all the claims, rights and liabilities that are associated with the Bhopal gas leakage case. The case proceeded for a long time and the UCC got enough time to get relief from the public pressure.

Now the surviving victims of Bhopal gas tragedy have pledged to knock on the doors of the Prime Minister's Office to get the compensation on the 28th anniversary of the accident. So, on 3 December 2012, the victims have decided to protest in a rally for getting adequate compensation. Rampyari, a surviving victim of Bhopal gas tragedy told Yahoo News, “We demand that some of us should also been given a monthly pension because of the way the gas leak has affected us. We will continue this fight even in the court; we will agitate in New Delhi as well. We will fight till the last to get our rights.”

A recent study done by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE), states that the samples near the factory site were found to contain chlorinated benzene compounds and some pesticides, which are 561 times higher than the national standards. It has also confirmed the presence of toxins in the drinking water, which is regarded as a slow poison.

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Tomm Sprick, Union Carbide Information Center
Bolla: Your article seems to imply that Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) never paid the Bhopal settlement. Nothing could be further from the truth! In February 1989, the Supreme Court of India directed a final settlement of all Bhopal litigation in the amount of $470 million. The Government of India, UCC and UCIL accepted the Court’s direction. Ten days after the decision, UCC and Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) made full payment of the $470 million to the Indian government. The settlement award was much larger than any previous damage award in India, and was $120 million more than plaintiffs’ lawyers had told U.S. courts was fair. In directing the settlement, the Supreme Court of India reviewed all U.S. and Indian court filings, applicable law and relevant facts, and an assessment of the victims’ needs. In its opinion, the Court said that compensation levels under the settlement were far greater than would normally be payable under Indian law. By November 1990, the Reserve Bank of India reported that the settlement fund, with interest, was approximately twice what was estimated to be needed to compensate the victims. To resolve continuing legal disputes, the Supreme Court of India in 1991 affirmed the settlement; described it as “just, equitable and reasonable,” and dismissed all outstanding petitions seeking review of the settlement. Pursuant to the settlement, the Government of India assumed responsibility for disbursing funds from the settlement. It is very important to remember that, In addition, the Court: • Required the Government of India to purchase, out of the settlement fund, a group medical insurance policy to cover 100,000 persons who may later develop symptoms; and • Required the Government of India to make up any shortfall, however unlikely, in the settlement fund. In January, 2007, the Supreme Court of India again reaffirmed the adequacy and finality of the 1989 settlement. It is clear from these rulings that responsibility for any additional compensation lies squarely with the Government of India, not Union Carbide. Read more at:
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