The Centre on Tuesday requested the Supreme Court to close down the compensation claims of over 14,000 victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy after the efforts to trace them did not meet with success.
During hearing of the matter before a Bench headed by Justice C K Thakker, Additional Solicitor General Amarender Saran that about 14,000 claimants could not be traced despite best efforts to find them and, therefore, their claims estimated to be worth Rs 50 crore should be closed down.
He said the Government had widely publicised their named through newspapers and notices to their last known address.
However, counsel appearing for the NGOs representing the victims vehemently opposed the Centre’s plea contending that the Government did not adopt a scientific approach to identify the missing "untraceable". The court asked the NGOs to file their objections to the Centre’s plea.
They pointed out that the "untraceable" victims, who were children of seven or eight-years in 1984 could not be identified on the basis of their childhood photographs. Their address too had changed, they said adding tracing victims on the basis of their childhood photographs and address was an exercise in futility.
They claimed that the victims had moved to other districts of the State as also various other parts of the country in search of employment and hence further renewed efforts should be made to locate them.
Welfare Commissioner, Bhopal said that out of the Rs 1,542 crore fixed for payment of compensation to 5,72.029 vitims, till date Rs 1491.23 crore has been disbursed to 5,56,850 victims. There were 17,222 victims yet to get the compensation. However, the Additional Solicitor General had claimed that were only 14,000 odd victims left but they were not traceable.