In June this year, responding to the public outcry over the weak judgments handed out by a Bhopal sessions court, the Indian government unveiled a new relief package for the survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. With the 26th anniversary of the leak around the corner, the Economic Times travelled to Bhopal to take stock of progress.
What follows is an excerpt from an interview with S.R. Mohanty, secretary (health), government of Madhya Pradesh, who is also in charge of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department.
Q But what happens to the people with “temporary disability”? Jabbar Khan, the Bhopal Gas activist, has been compiling a list of people, who while classed as temporarily disabled, are now suffering from cancer and renal failure and the like…
A That is a major problem. The 5,21,000 people who had been listed as suffering from minor injuries were not considered by the GoM. They did not want to reopen the question of recategorisation. On the whole, there are two issues on the compensation front. One, even as the number of cases rose far beyond initial estimates, the compensation amount stayed the same. The result, people got a fifth of what they should have. Second, the categorisation (into major and minor disabilities) itself has become untenable. As the years go by, people who had a minor wheezing problem now have collapsed lungs.
Read the whole interview here.