Schemes for Bhopal gas victims were scuttled ab initio
Posted December 23, 2014on:
There is no end to the tales of official bungling in the schemes prepared for providing assistance to the Bhopal gas affected people. After the disaster following the leak of MiC gas from Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant in December 1984, a “step-up scheme” was started to provide training-cum-employment to the surviving victims. Under the scheme the affected people were to be given training in various vocations. They were then to be provided financial assistance to start their own business (75 per cent bank loan and 25 per cent government grant). The total number of beneficiaries: 263. Under another scheme, 3600 persons were to be trained in 40 vocations every year from 1990-91 to 1998-99. Only 4800 persons were trained when the scheme was stopped.
Then another programme of imparting vocational training to the affected people was started in 1986. Only 8,000 persons were given the training. But that also served no purpose, as the follow-up assistance was not provided to them for starting their own business.
On October 5, 1987, Union Minister of Industries J. Vengal Rao laid the foundation stone of a “special industrial area” where industrial units were to be set up for giving employment to the Bhopal gas victims exclusively. About 10,000 persons were to be given direct employment by early 1990 in the first phase; 170 worksheds for the first phase were constructed well on time.
The projects envisaged setting up of small and medium scale industrial units over a 21 hectare piece of land in the Govindpura Industrial Area of Bhopal for exclusive employment of the gas leak victims. The industrialists were to be invited for setting up their units in which heavy labour would not be required. The electronics industry and the diamond cutting industry were identified, to begin with, as suited to the requirement.
The government, on its part, had promised to provide to these units the incentives and facilities available to the industrial units in backward districts as a special case because Bhopal is not a backward district. These included grants to the extent of 15 per cent and sales tax exemption for seven years.
The scheme was abruptly abandoned. The sheds constructed for setting up industrial units for the gas affected people were allotted by the BJP government of Sunderlal Patwa as barracks to the Rapid Action Force (RAF).