CPI leaders join Bhopal Gas tragedy victims for speedy justice

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New Delhi, Mar 31 : Communist Party of India (CPI) leaders today joined victims of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy to pressurise the UPA Government to deliver quick justice to the victims.

Over 3,500 people died in the days and weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plant in Bhopal on December 2, 1984.

According to official reports, nearly 15,000 people have died since from cancer and other diseases.

Bhopal Gas tragedy victims contest this figure, saying the death toll was 33,000.

"The case is pending in the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The UPA Government should fight the case with all effort to get justice for the victims.In fact the government should seek money for ...clean up in Bhopal. Government should also take up all measures to get Anderson and punitive action against him and the government should see that the present owner of Union Carbide, Dow Chemical, paysthe dues to the victims. It is now a very long, pending case," saidD. Raja, the CPI's national secretary.

In 1984, Union Carbide accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a 100 million dollars charitable trust fund to build a hospital for victims. Later Union Carbide was taken over by Dow Chemicals.

The company also paid 470 million dollars to the Government in 1989 as a settlement reached after a protracted legal battle. 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.

Meanwhile, the Michigan-based Dow Chemical has said it never owned or operated the former Union Carbide site as it took over the company more than 16 years after the tragedy and no court has ever held the company responsible for the site clean-up.

In May 2005, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers requested the Madhya Pradesh High Court, to ask Dow to pay a deposit of 22 million dollars as redemption, or clean-up costs.

According to assessments made by environmentalists and voluntary groups, the estimated cost of a proper clean-up of the site would be 500 million dollars.

The support of the CPI to the cause of the gas victims comes even as the Left parties lend support to the ruling UPA Government.

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