Amid a raging debate over who secured a safe exit for Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson in the aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy, the CPI on Tuesday said it would not have been possible without the nod of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
"It is very obvious that the decision for sending out a foreigner of such a high standing, the head of an MNC, could not have been made without the nod from the highest quarter. And the highest quarter happened to be Rajiv Gandhi, who was at that time the Prime Minister," CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan told reporters.
He felt an attempt was being made by Congress leaders to shield the late Prime Minister from cricitism and said, "I can understand the worry of Congress leaders. But let them not think that this country is made up of gullible fools who do not understand things."
Bardhan, who was briefing the media on the discussions at the three-day National Council meeting of the party which concluded here yesterday, accused both the UPA and NDA governments of failing to protect the interests of Bhopal gas victims and sought an effective law for fixing liability in case of industrial disasters. He said a comprehensive liability bill should be in place for expeditious compensation to the victims of industrial disasters.
"In the first place, this country must place on record a liability bill. The draft of the nuclear liability bill shows that this government does not know exactly what is the liability that has to be incurred, the extent of liability and who are liable to pay. A liability bill must be there which covers all industrial accidents like the Bhopal gas tragedy," Bardhan said.
He demanded that the reconstituted Group of Ministers (GoM) set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to go into the entire range of issues involving the Bhopal tragedy take quick decisions on the issue of damages to be paid to the victims and their rehabilitation.
"The GoM must fix upon the Dow Chemicals (which now fully owns the Union Carbide Corporation) the responsibility of cleaning up the toxic waste that has accumulated on the land and water in and around Bhopal," he said.
The CPI leader said extradition of Anderson was not the main issue now as he was very old and sick and that the extradition proceedings might take another 10 years.
Bardhan also criticised the BJP for not filing a revision petition in the court on the Bhopal issue when it was in power. PTI