Bhopal survivors unhappy with curative petition
Posted December 13, 2010on:
The curative petition filed in the Supreme Court by the Union of India in its capacity as the parens patriae of the victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy has left the survivors’ organisations dissatisfied. The curative petition seeks enhancement of compensation which was determined by the Supreme Court vide its orders of February 14-15, 1989, May 4, 1989 and October 3, 1991.
The curative petition says it is “an attempt by the Union of India to cure gross miscarriage of justice and perpetration of irremediable injustice being suffered by the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy”. The settlement amount determined by the Supreme Court, the curative petition points out, “was based on certain factual assumptions which have been found to be completely incorrect and far removed from reality. This has vitiated the very basis of compensation”.
The compensation amount of US $ 470 million directed to be paid was based on the assumption that there were about 3,000 death cases. Similarly, the number of cases of minor injuries was assumed to be 50,000 and the number of cases of temporary disability was assumed to be 20,000. Taking these different categories of victims into account the figure of US $ 470 million was arrived at by the Supreme Court.
The curative petition puts the total number of death cases at 5,295, that of cases of minor injuries at 5, 27,894 and the number of cases of temporary disability at 35,455. The Union of India has sought an additional amount of Rs 7,844 crore for the victims on various counts.The respondents in the curative petition are: Union Carbide Corporation, Dow Chemicals, McLeod Russell India, and Eveready Industries
The number of death cases mentioned in the curative petition is a major point of dispute with the survivors’ organisations. Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) convener Abdul Jabbar says that out of the 22,150 death claims filed by the next of kin until April 1997, the Claims Courts had accepted only 5295 death cases as directly related to the disaster. In 10,047 of the cases registered under death category, compensation was awarded for injury and not death on the plea that the cause of death in those cases was not related to the disaster.
Jabbar and N.D.Jayaprakash of Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS) have pointed out in a memorandum submitted to Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari that the Claims Courts’ assertion that only 5295 gas-victims had died due to the disaster is contrary to the findings of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). For example, the findings of the “Long Term Epidemiological Studies on the Health Effects of Toxic Gas Exposure at Bhopal”, which was carried out by ICMR’s Bhopal Gas Disaster Research Centre and its successor, the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies (CRS), Bhopal, conclude: “During the initial stage the crude death rate among the exposed population was very high (22/1000) in comparison to that of control population (2.3/1000). It has been continuously higher till 1990 … Even after 20 years of the disaster gas victims are dying mostly (more than 50%) due to respiratory ailments.” [pp. 4-5]
The two organisations point out that they are submitting this memorandum to the Rajya Sabha chairman “with the earnest hope that you will provide us with an opportunity to place our views before the members of the Rajya Sabha regarding the facts and circumstances of the case for advancing the just cause of the gas-victims”.
The memorandum says: “It is therefore evident that the Claims Courts have failed to acknowledge the death of at least another 15,000 gas-victims. As per official records, 5198 of the ‘proven’ death cases relate to the period 1984 -1992; the rest of the 97 ‘proven’ death cases relate to the period 1992-1997. The official claim that no toxic gas-related deaths have taken place since April 1997 is sheer travesty of truth”.