Karat calls for all-party meet on Bhopal report

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 24 2010, 04:21am hrs
CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding an all-party meeting to discuss the recommendations of the reconstituted group of ministers (GoM) on the Bhopal gas leak. The party said the compensation package proposed by the GoM was meagre and wants the government to make Dow Chemicals pay up for remediation and cleaning up of the accident site.

With the Union Cabinet scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the report of the GoM, Karat said a final decision should be taken only after an all-party meeting, for which organisations of gas victims should also be invited. In rare praise for Singh, Karat appreciated his intention to take a speedy decision on matters concerning payment of enhanced compensation, medical treatment and the clean-up measures.

In his letter, Karat pointed out that since the process of providing justice and adequate compensation for the victims has already dragged on for 26 years, it is important that the views of the large number of people affected should be taken into account. Besides, he pointed out, there are questions about who is liable for the damages and the remediation measures to be undertaken.

Karat kept his focus on the compensation; neither he nor the CPI(M) Politburo made any mention of the Warren Anderson episode. The party nudged the government to take a firm stand and ask Dow Chemicals to pay up, failing which the company can be blacklisted and measures taken against it.

Although the CPI(M) welcomed some of the suggestions of the GoM including filing of a curative petition against the Supreme Courts March 1997 order, restarting of an Indian Council of Medical Research unit and the takeover of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust, it pointed to serious problems with the compensation package and non-implementation of the polluter pays principle.

The compensation package offered is based on flawed estimation of deaths and injuries and the amount of compensation offered remains meagre,it said.