Cong joins chorus on Bhopal, GoM reconstituted

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 11 2010, 04:45am hrs
With growing criticism of the verdict on the Bhopal gas leak disaster, the government on Wednesday reconstituted a group of ministers (GoM) to go into a range of issues relating to the December 1984 incident.

Home minister P Chidambaram will head the reconstituted panel which was earlier headed by Arjun Singh. Singh, who was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh when the incident took place, is no longer in the government.

Other members of the GoM are Ghulam Nabi Azad, M Veerappa Moily, S Jaipal Reddy, Kamal Nath, Kumari Selja, MK Alagiri, Prithviraj Chavan and Jairam Ramesh. Madhya Pradesh minister in-charge of rehabilitation will be a permanent invitee.

The GoM will examine all issues relating to Bhopal gas leakage, including remedial measures and make appropriate recommendations relating to the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of the disaster and their families.

The GoM reconstitution came two days after a Bhopal court sentenced seven persons, including former Union Carbide India Ltd non-executive chairman Keshub Mahindra, to two years imprisonment. They were granted bail after furnishing bonds and surety.

With questions being raised over its role in the non-extradition of Warren Anderson, who was Union Carbide Corporation chairman at the time of the incident, the ministry of external affairs said it has time and again sought his extradition but it had been turned down by the US for want of more evidential links.

Maintaining that the ministry renewed the request for an extradition on a number of occasions from the time it was first made in 2003 to September 2008, when the last request was made, officials said the MEA will proceed on the basis of the collective decision of the government on the issue.

The Congress too joined the chorus for extradition of Anderson. The Congress is of the firm opinion that the extradition process should be completed and he (Anderson) should be brought back. We hope government will take it to its logical conclusion, AICC spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters.

Asked to respond to charges that the then Congress government at the Centre and in Madhya Pradesh granted safe passage to Anderson, Natarajan said there were successive governments at the Centre and in the state and these questions needed to be asked of them as well.

She said the Congress wanted every step to be taken to ensure that the perpetrators of the worst industrial disaster stand trial and people who were wronged receive justice.