Concerned over the uproar on the Bhopal gas leak judgment, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday directed the Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram, to report to the cabinet within 10 days on all aspects relating to the tragedy.
Manmohan Singh directed that the GoM "may meet immediately to take stock of the situation arising out of the recent court judgement, to assess the options and remedies available to the government on the various issues involved and to report to the cabinet within 10 days", a statement from the prime minister's office (PMO) said in New Delhi.
The GoM, set up to look into all issues relating to the Bhopal disaster, was reconstituted recently with Chidambaram as the head of the panel.
The empowered GoM also comprises Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, Minister for Urban Planning S Jaipal Reddy, Minister for Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath, Tourism Minister Selja, Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals Minister M K Alagiri, Minister of State in the PMO Prithviraj Chavan and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
Madhya Pradesh's minister in-charge of rehabilitation will be a permanent invitee to the panel.
This came in the light of accusations from the Opposition which has been attacking the Congress for having allowed Warren Anderson, the CEO of Union Carbide Corp in 1984, escape from the country within days of Bhopal gas tragedy and for having done little to secure justice for the families of more than 15,000 people who died in the gas leak and lakhs who were injured or maimed for life.
Anderson visited Bhopal on December 7, four days after the lethal methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant. He was received at the airport by Bhopal’s district collector and superintendent of police and driven to the company’s guest-house where he was arrested but let off within a few hours. He was then flown on a state government plane to New Delhi, from where he flew to the US after two days.
The Congress party on Friday strongly rejected a former prime ministerial aide PC Alexander's indication that the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had helped Warren Anderson escape from the country.
Alexander reportedly stated that Gandhi and then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Arjun Singh were directly in touch with each other over the escape of Anderson from the country barely days after the world's biggest industrial disaster in Bhopal Dec 2-3, 1984.
A District Magistrate's Court in Bhopal had on June 7 convicted all eight accused in the Bhopal gas case on grounds of negligence under Section 304 (a) for the tragedy. But they were granted bail soon after.
Anderson, the chairman of Union Carbide Worldwide, has been designated an absconder.
On Sunday Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi attacked Congress President Sonia Gandhi over her "silence" on the Bhopal gas tragedy.