People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 26

June 27, 2010

Bhopal Package Raises More Apprehensions: CPI(M)


CONSTITUTED by the prime minister to go into an assortment of issues regarding the Bhopal gas disaster, the Group of Ministers (GoM) has made certain recommendations which pose more questions and raise more apprehensions than they solve or remove. This was the opinion expressed by the Madhya Pradesh state unit of the CPI(M) in a letter written to the prime minister and the union home minister on June 19.


The said recommendations of the relate to the issue of compensation for the gas victims, the state governmentís decision to distribute compensation after 26 years of the disaster, and the allocation of a relief and rehabilitation package of Rs 982 crore by the Planning Commission.  


The CPI(M) has demanded that the government must clarify its stand on some of the issues before announcing any concrete decision on the GoM recommendations. These are as below.


First, the amount of the relief and rehabilitation package must be decided in accordance with the impact of gas on the life and living conditions of the people, their capacity to work and the possibility of getting jobs, and the impact the disaster has left on the environment. The CPI(M)ís opinion is that the declared amount is very small on these criteria.


Second, at the time of distribution of compensation last year, the Supreme Court has made the mistake not only of deciding only a nominal amount but also of using a fraudulent classification for the purpose. The result was that even the 90 per cent gas affected victims were either fully deprived of compensation or received a pittance of only Rs 25,000 that was not adequate even for minimal bandaging etc. Hence the CPI(M) has demanded that any such fraudulent medical classification must not be used for fixation and distribution of compensation in the future.   


Third, if the central and state governments think that they can get rid of their obligations by doling out only a small amount, they are living in a world of illusions. The CPI(M) says they must clearly declare that the US multinational Dow Chemicals has to pay compensation either at the rate fixed by the US president Barack Obama for the oil leakage in the Gulf of Mexico or at the rate payable for such accidents in the USA. (The compensation payable in the latter case would come to Rs 68,000 crore for personal losses alone.) The CPI(M) says the people wonít allow any move to shield the USís culpability by issuing a pittance in the name of compensation and a basketful of assurances.


Fourth, the CPI(M) has demanded that the roles of some statesmen, the judiciary and the administration must be treated as cognisable offences meant to shield the real culprits, that Union Carbide boss Warren Anderson must be brought to India, and that all these people must be tried in a special court in a time-bound manner.


The CPI(M) is currently in the process of contacting other Left parties, progressive organisations and individuals to mass opinion on these issues, and would soon hold a convention in Bhopal for the purpose.