The GOM, entrusted with the responsibility of having a relook at the entire gamut of the Bhopal tragedy, has come out with recommendations within a week and that must be a record of sorts. Imagine Ministers sitting on daily basis to deliberate on issues which had been in the cold storage for well over a quarter of a century. The Government, rattled by the damning criticism not only by the Opposition, which was on expected lines, but by the entire country. It would be nice if all major decisions are taken with equal alacrity. What a difference it could make to the governance of this country !
The compensation amount of Rs 1265 crores [approx 275 million dollars] appears huge and everybody seems to be applauding the Government for this belated comfort money. The victims are short-changed actually. By delaying this payment by 25 years the Government has saved interest amounting to Rs 1900 crores [ just simple interest @ measly 6% per annum]. So what the Government is going to pay is a fraction of what it has saved through insensitivity of successive Governments. Victims should be paid interest from 1985 say @ 6% p.a. which would be just and fair.
A lot of crocodile tears are being shed by the UPA, the Congress and all other parties. They were all sleeping for 25 years. Now that there is a scope for exploitation purely for political reasons, everybody seems to feel the pain of the victims. Even the human rights activists should share part of the blame for not being as active as they should have been.
The reasons for the 'quick fix' approach of the UPA government was to try and erase the subject from public memory as the blame lies squarely at the door of the Congress Party which is now heading the UPA outfit. The most accurate account has been given by the then Foreign Secretary [mind you Rajiv Gandhi was also heading the External Affairs Ministry- EAM] which corroborated with that American diplomat. Firstly, Anderson had sought a safe passage if he visited the Bhopal site and the request received by the Foreign Secretary was passed on to the then Home Minister - P.V.Narsiman Rao. He further claimed that the PM was not in town and it is hard to believe that the HM, not known for his bold decisions, could have not kept the PM in the loop. So once the safe passage was guaranteed it is immaterial whether he was arrested and subsequently released. Perhaps the local administration was not privy to the sovereign assurance of safe passage. All this interaction between the EAM and the HM could not have been oral. It must have been in black and white. So where is the confusion.
Knowing the Americans well it is well nigh impossible to expect them to do anything to extradite the head honcho of the Union Carbide. Forget him in person, it would suffice if the organization [either UCC or DOW] is made to reimburse the Government for the compensation as well as the cost of making the area safe for the survivors of this tragedy.