A file photo shows the pictures of deceased Bhopal gas leak victims in a hospital in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. More than 25 years after a gas leak from the Union Carbide plant on the night of December 2-3, 1984, killed thousands of people, all eight accused in the case were held guilty by a local court on June 7. Image Credit: EPA

New Delhi: Bhopal victims demonstrated briefly outside the North Block office of the Home Ministry in New Delhi on Monday while the Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting was on.

But Satinath Sarangi, a social activist heading an NGO working closely with the victims and their families, has welcomed the government recommendations.

The Group of Ministers (GoM) has recommended setting aside Rs1 million (Dh78,380) each for the next of kin of those killed in what is billed as the world's worst industrial tragedy, Rs500,000 for those with permanent disability and Rs300,000 to those partially injured, besides making a plethora of recommendations, which are expected to be put before the Cabinet meeting tentatively scheduled for Friday.

"The people of Bhopal are badly in need of compensation, so we welcome the decision of the GoM [on compensation]. But we need to look at the larger picture, such as long-term medical benefits and research facilities," Sarangi said.


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which heads the Madhya Pradesh government, has expressed its unhappiness with the recommendations made by the GoM, especially the monetary compensation to the victims.

Senior Madhya Pradesh minister Babulal Gaur, who is a permanent invitee to the GoM, conveyed his displeasure at the end of the meeting while the recommendations were finalised.

Gaur said that the BJP would come out with a detailed statement on the case today.

The Bhopal survivors' group Chingari Trust welcomed the news of higher compensation and a renewed focus on cleaning up the site where tonnes of toxic waste are seeping into local water supplies, according to research. "The government should go after Anderson no matter how old or young he is. He must be tried and punished for what he has done to us all," survivor and trustee of the group Rasheeda Bee told AFP by phone. India's effort to secure Anderson's extradition has the potential to strain relations with Washington. The State Department has said it does not expect the case to be reopened.

The report was submitted by the federal Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who headed the nine-member ministerial panel.

The report is divided into four parts, comprising legal, environmental, political and judicial approaches to what the government is required to do in wake of the public outcry that those responsible for the tragedy walked away with symbolic punishment with active connivance of the powers that be in the country 26 years ago.

"We have dealt with all the issues, compensation, legal issues, including the issues of pursuing the extradition of Warren Anderson, the legal options available with the government of India," Chidambaram told reporters here after the panel finalised its report yesterday. According to Chidambaram, the GoM has made significant recommendations with a view to bringing relief to those who had suffered as a result of the ghastly tragedy.

Altogether 5,295 people lost their lives immediately after the gas disaster while 10,047 others succumbed to various diseases in the following months.