|"The city's residents are no longer suffering from the after effects of the Bhopal gas disaster". If you disagree with the Chief Minister then please let him know:|
Mr Digvijay Singh, Chief Minister
Closure of Gas Relief Department Likely
|The state government is toying with the idea of closing down the Gas
Relief and Rehabilitation Department that was created in the wake of the gas disaster in
1984. The Chief Minister indicated serious thinking by the government to this effect in a
"meet the press" on completion of seven years of his government here on Friday.
Digvijay Singh disclosed that the government has got a study conducted on the after effects of the gas as well as desirability of continuing the department. Observing that the Gas Relief Department has outlived its utility, the Chief Minister corroborated his assertion by the statistics which, according to him suggest that the present death rate in Bhopal is almost the same as in any other town or city in the state. About the birth of deformed children too, Bhopal is no different from other cities in terms of numbers he added. "This indicates that the city's residents are no longer suffering from the after effects of the Bhopal gas disaster".
In the 45 minute long "meet the press", the Chief Minister answered a whole range of questions regarding drought relief, infrastructural facilities, power crisis, division of assets and liabilities between Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, the concept of Gram Raj etc. He admitted the two areas where the government has not been able to measure up to expectations are roads and power and it would be his government's endeavour to address the two issues in the right earnest. Answering questions on the gas relief-related issues on the eve of the 16th anniversary of the disaster, the Chief Minister clarified the claims courts which decided on the cash compensation for the victims were not under the state government's control but under a relief commissioner appointed by the Centre.
He also enumerated steps taken for the welfare of the gas victims, adding that complaints of money meant for them being spent for other purposes were being looked into. In reply to a question, Singh said that some residue was still left in the Union Carbide factory where lethal MIC gas had leaked.