India to hike Bhopal gas disaster compensation amount: Amnesty
BHOPAL: The government of India has promised to
increase compensation for Bhopal gas disaster victims as the 30th anniversary
of the tragedy looms, Amnesty International said on Saturday.
The pledge was given by India’s chemicals minister
Ananth Kumar late on Friday in New Delhi to demonstrators demanding higher
compensation for victims, the rights group said in statement.
Thousands of people were killed when 40 tonnes of
lethal methyl isocyanate gas spewed from the Union Carbide chemical plant in
the central city of Bhopal on December 2, 1984.
The long-term impact of toxins released after the gas
leak led to a string of diseases, which the state-run Indian Council of Medical
Research (ICMR) said had killed 25,000 people by 1994.
Amnesty called the Indian government's enhanced
compensation commitment a "major victory" for survivors.
"India's government has agreed to increase a
multi-million dollar compensation claim against Union Carbide over the 1984 gas
leak... which poisoned more than half a million people," the London-based
The group gave no details about the higher
compensation, and the Indian government was not immediately available to
But Amnesty said it welcomed the “important move” and
called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “ensure the government’s pledge is
According to Indian official figures, 3,500 people
died within days of the accident. But the ICMR later estimated the immediate
number of deaths at 8,000 to 10,000. Survivors and their children say they are
still afflicted by cancer, vision problems, fatigue, heart disease and other
Indian authorities blamed the gas leak on design and
maintenance problems but Union Carbide attributed it to employee sabotage.
In 2012, the Indian government filed a Supreme Court
petition asking for higher compensation from the company, which was set at
$470-million in a settlement reached in 1989.