CPI(M) on Tuesday demanded an all-party meeting to discuss the proposed Bhopal compensation package, saying it was based on "flawed estimation" of deaths and injuries and there was no liability on Dow Chemicals.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party General Secretary Prakash Karat said the Union Cabinet should take a final decision only after an all-party meeting, in which gas victims' organisations should also be invited. The Cabinet would be meeting on June 25 to discuss the report of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on the Bhopal issue, headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram.
Karat "appreciated" the Prime Minister's intention to take speedy decisions on payment of enhanced compensation, medical treatment and the clean up measures to be taken at the site of the plant, but wanted him to consider these issues.
"Since providing justice and adequate compensation for the victims of the gas tragedy has dragged on for 26 years, it is important that the views of the large number of people affected should be taken into account. Further, there are questions about who is liable for the damages and the remediation measures to be undertaken," Karat wrote.
Keeping this in view, the CPI(M) leader urged the Prime Minister to call a meeting of all political parties along with the representatives of the organizations of gas victims to discuss the GoM recommendations.
"It would be better if the Union Cabinet takes a final decision on the recommendations of the GoM after such a meeting," Karat said. In a statement, the CPI(M) Politburo said the compensation package offered was based on "flawed estimation of deaths and injuries and the amount of compensation offered remains meagre". The top CPI(M) body said there were "two serious problems" regarding the recommendations of the GoM.
"Firstly, the compensation package offered is based on flawed estimation of deaths and injuries and the amount of compensation offered remains meagre."Secondly, there is no serious effort to make the Dow Chemical Company, which took over the Union Carbide, liable for the damages and compensation.
The entire expenses for the remediation and environmental clean up at the Bhopal factory site should be borne by the Dow Chemical Company", the Politburo said. Pointing out that Dow had "invested and set-up a number of enterprises in India", the CPI(M) recommended that the government "can take a firm stand asking the Dow Chemical to pay up, failing which the company can be blacklisted and measures taken against it."
"It is not enough to pursue the long pending case in a court in Madhya Pradesh," the CPI(M) said, asking the government to "implement the 'polluter pays principle' in full" to adequately compensate the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy. It also welcomed the GoM suggestion to restart the unit of the Indian Council of Medical Research and the takeover of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust. PTI