IANS, April 17th, 2008
New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) A group of ministers (GoM) headed by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh met here Thursday after a gap of three years to review the relief measures for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. “The central government should consider annual allocation of Rs.50 crore (Rs.500 million) to the state government for meeting the health expenses of the gas victims and their rehabilitation or should set up a Rs.600 crore (Rs.6 billion) corpus fund for them,” said Ajay Bishnoi, Madhya Pradesh’s Minister for Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation.
“The last meeting of the GoM held in May 2005 had decided to extend the benefits to residents of more areas of Bhopal. It is yet to be implemented,” he told reporters after the meeting at the Madhya Pradesh Bhawan here.
Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Ram Vilas Paswan, Labour and Employment Minister Oscar Fernandes, and Madhya Pradesh Minister Ajay Bishnoi participated in the meeting.
The central government July 9, 2004 set up the GoM to monitor and implement the relief and rehabilitation measures for the victims.
The disaster occurred on the intervening night of Dec 2-3, 1984, when over 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate and other poisonous gases spewed out of Union Carbide’s subsidiary pesticide plant in Bhopal, killing approximately 3,800 people instantly.
The incident, one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, left thousands suffering from chronic exposure. Contaminated groundwater around the plant area still continues to affect public health. Over 15,000 people have died since.
Over 100 school kids Wednesday participated in a rally here in support of the gas tragedy survivors who marched from Bhopal to Delhi, demanding rehabilitation and compensation for them and their children.