Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reconstituted the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) tasked with suggesting remedial measures to help the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram heads the high-powered panel, which includes Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath, Housing Minister Kumari Selja and Fertiliser Minister M.K. Alagiri.
Minister of State for Environment Jairam Ramesh and Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan are also members. The minister for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department in the Madhya Pradesh government is a permanent invitee.
A Bhopal court on Monday held Union Carbide and seven of its officials guilty of criminal negligence and sentenced them to two years’ imprisonment. The seven were later released on bail.
The verdict has evoked widespread disappointment, with Union ministers Moily and Ramesh describing the verdict as “very unsatisfactory”.
Moily said the government would push for stricter laws to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.
The reconstituted EGOM will examine all issues relating to the Bhopal gas tragedy and make appropriate recommendations on remedial measures for rehabilitation of victims and their families, officials said.
Originally set up in 2008, the empowered group was reconstituted May 26 last.
The Bhopal gas tragedy is the deadliest industrial disaster in history.
About 15,000 people died when tonnes of poisonous methyl isocyanate gas leaked from Union Carbide's pesticide plant in Bhopal on the intervening night of December 2-3 in 1984.
Dow Chemicals took over the Union Carbide factory in 2001, but has evaded responsibility for cleaning up the area around the closed plant where toxic waste has continued to affect the health of the people.
Dow Chemicals claims it is not liable to pay compensation because it did not inherit the liabilities of Union Carbide when it bought the company.
Earlier, the Tata group had proposed a remediation fund to clean up 8,000 tonnes of waste at the site.
Last year, four senators and Dow Chemicals chief executive officer Andrew N. Livers wrote to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention to settle the issue.