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Package won’t benefit many

The initial hopes, raised by the compensation package for Bhopal gas victims declared by the Centre, have been dashed after it has become clear that more than 5 lakh victims will not get any part of the Rs 750-crore package.
By Ashutosh Shukla | Hindustan Times, Bhopal
UPDATED ON JUN 26, 2010 12:31 AM IST

The initial hopes, raised by the compensation package for Bhopal gas victims declared by the Centre, have been dashed after it has become clear that more than 5 lakh victims will not get any part of the Rs 750-crore package.

Only about 43,000 gas victims and families of victims will benefit from the package.

“We were hoping to get some more compensation,” said Parvati Bai, a resident of Chhola, one of the worst-hit localities after gas leaked from a Union Carbide factory in December 1984. “We only got whatever was given to us at the beginning.”

Activists Satinath Sarangi and Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action led a rally of the survivors in Delhi on Thursday, demanding additional compensation for all gas victims.

Dhingra said the manner in which the compensation amount was arrived at was arbitrary. “Not a singe stakeholder was consulted or heard,” she said.

“It’s clear that the Prime Minister was not in a mood to listen. We sent him letters four times, seeking an audience till before the cabinet meeting (on Thursday) but to no avail.”

Abdul Jabbar of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, one of the petitioners before the SC, seeking a five-fold hike in compensation, said: “Who is the Union Cabinet to decide who among the victims deserves an enhanced compensation and who doesn’t?”

The cabinet on Thursday approved a Rs 1265.56-crore relief, remediation and rehabilitation package as recommended by the GoM, led by Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has demanded that the enhanced compensation should be given to all gas-affected people, including those living in 20 wards that were earlier declared unaffected.

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