New Delhi, Apr 22 : Bhopal gas tragedy victims have demanded the setting up of an empowered commission to look into their grievances, and also called for the extradition of Union Carbide Corporation representatives who they hold responsible for the tragedy.
"We have resolved that we will not go back till the Prime Minister makes a public statement of agreeing to our demand for setting up an empowered commission on Bhopal gas leak disaster and taking legal action," said Satinath Shadangi, a member of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, an NGO.
"The environmental damage is on a very large scale, it had previously not been known. Even today, it is not fully understood as to what is the scale of environmental damage done by this because there are at least two aspects of this damage. One is this huge amount of toxic solid waste, which is lying at the premises of Union Carbide plant. The other is the damage done by percolation of all these toxic chemicals in the sub-soil water," said Prashant Bhushan, a counsel for the victims.
On the night of December 2, 1984, tonnes of a toxic gas leaked from the pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide, killing 3,800 people almost immediately. Thousands more sustained severe afflictions.
Over 2000 women became widows overnight because of the deadly gas leak.
In 1984, Union Carbide accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a 100 million dollar charitable trust fund to build a hospital for the ictims. Union Carbide was later taken over by Dow Chemicals.
After a protracted legal battle, Union Carbide paid 470 million dollars to the Indian Government as settlement in 1989. The victims, on an average, received 25,000 rupees in case of illness and 100,000 rupees in case of a death in the family.
Union Carbide India Ltd. began the cleanup work at the site after the incident, spending some two million dollars.