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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 4, 2007
Supreme Court says no to increase compensation to Bhopal victims
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Supreme Court says no to increase compensation to Bhopal victims

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled out the five-time compensation for the 1984 Bhopal gas victims, as put forth by several NGOs through petitions filed in the apex court.

New Delhi, May 4 : The Supreme Court on Friday ruled out the five-time compensation for the 1984 Bhopal gas victims, as put forth by several NGOs through petitions filed in the apex court.

A two-member bench of Justice C K Thakker and Justice Altamas Kabir, while dismissing the petitions filed by the NGOs, urged them to approach the special tribunal in Bhopal for the settlement of the claims.

The apex court also questioned the number of victims of the tragedy put forth by the petitioners. The official toll in the gas leak tragedy has been put to close 4000, but the petitions claimed that the incident killed more than 15,000 people.

On April 3, the Centre had declared that the claims of over 14,000 victims, amounting to Rs. 50 crore, were non-sustainable and could not be implemented, as most of them were untraceable.

Additional Solicitor General Amarender Saran appearing for the Centre had urged the Supreme Court to permit closure of compensation claims.

Counsels Shamona Khanna and Naveen R Nath appearing for some of the NGOs fighting for the victims' rights had opposed the Centre's plea on the ground that the Government is not pursuing a scientific approach in identifying the "untraceable" victims.

Nath contended that the "untraceable" victims were seven or eight-year-old at the time of the tragedy and the Government was seeking to identify them now on the basis of their childhood photographs or addresses.

The Bench then directed the NGOs to file its objections and responses in an affidavit and posted the matter for a further hearing.

On the night of December 2, 1984, tons of toxic gas leaked from a Union Carbide in Bhopal, killing people and injuring thousands more. Over 2000 women became widows overnight.

Union Carbide accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a 100-million dollar charitable trust fund to build a hospital for victims. The company also paid 470 million dollars to the Indian Government in 1989 in 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 or so in case of a death in the family.

Union Carbide was later taken over by Dow Chemicals.

As per the report of the Welfare Commissioner, Bhopal, out of the Rs 1,542 crore fixed for payment of compensation to 5,72.029 vitims, till date Rs 1491.23 crore has been disbursed to 5,56,850 victims. There are 17,222 victims who are yet to receive compensation.

ANI

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