For more than 20,000 people who suffered terrible injuries on the night of poison two decades ago, recent Supreme Court decisions about clean water and distribution of compensation monies come too late. Those twenty thousand are the dead. In their case neither was justice done, nor any humanity shown. The company, whose actions by any civilised standard are beneath contempt, is scarcely less callous in its treatment of the victims than successive waves of Indian politicians in central and state governments. The Supreme Court issues orders, the politicians ignore them. Hence the clean water demo of two days ago that brought Bhopal to a halt.
Today, there is more news from the Supreme Court – issues regarding distribution of compensation money are likely soon to be resolved. But local BJP politicians, led by Chief Minister Gaur, who earlier today pledged to make Madhya Pradesh a “corruption-free” zone, are asking the Court to distribute the money to the whole city, rather than just to those injured for whom it was intended and to whom it has been for so many years denied. In the unlikely event that such a petition is granted, it would be the first instance of Supreme Court-funded voter bribery.
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Bhopal ki Aawaaz
October 1, 2004
Addressing a press conference today, leaders of four organizations active on the issues of the December1984 Union Carbide disaster informed victims of the disaster that the Supreme Court of India is most likely to resolve all pending issues regarding the distribution of balance of compensation very soon. The leaders stated that at the hearing in the Supreme Court today, the judges have clearly reiterated that the balance of compensation money can only go to individual victims of the disaster.
The matters that were taken up by the Supreme Court in today’s hearing were the submission made by the Welfare Commissioner, Bhopal Gas Victims with regard to the mode of distribution of the balance of compensation. Representing petitioners Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla and other victims, Advocate Mr. S Muralidhar argued for fair, simple and speedy distribution of the compensation amount. According to Mr. Muralidhar the court would like to hear the case at length with a view to resolving all questions at the next hearing of Supreme Court on October 26, 2004.
Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla from the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh who initiated the move for distribution of balance of compensation in March 2003 said that five applications have been filed in the matter by various agencies. The parties that have filed these applications are: Union of India, State of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust, Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] and Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan [BGPMUS]. However, the Supreme Court has not issued any notice on these applications despite plea by respective lawyers. The Court will decide whether or not to entertain them at the next hearing on 26th October.
The application by the Union of India has sought clarification on the implementation of the July 19, 2004 decision of the Supreme Court regarding compensation distribution. The application by the State of Madhya Pradesh has sought Rs. 600 Crores from the balance of compensation fund for long-term medical care and economic and environmental rehabilitation. The application by the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust has sought release of the balance moneys out of the sale of the attached shares and for further funds for carrying out its obligations to provide medical relief to gas victims beyond 2005.
The petition filed by the Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP has sought the inclusion of the residents of the 20 unaffected wards among the recipients of the balance of compensation fund. The Petition filed jointly by the BGPMUS and the Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti has called for a re-examination of the inadequacies of the Bhopal settlement of 1989.
Rashida Bi, Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Shahid Noor, Bhopal ki Aawaaz
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
House No. 12, Gali No. 2, Near Naseer Masjid, Bag Umrao Dulha, Bhopal Tel: 3132298
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For more information please visit www.bhopal.net