Bhopal tragedy compensation fund of ₹50cr unutilised: SC

Source: The post is based on the article Bhopal tragedy compensation fund of ₹50cr unutilised: SCpublished in The Hindu on 11th January 2023

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre why it is asking for more funds from Union Carbide for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy pointing out that Rs 50 crore of the compensation amount is lying unutilised. 

The government has sought additional funds of over Rs 7,400 crore from Union Carbide. The American company had already paid $470 million (Rs 715 crore at the time of settlement in 1989).

What is Bhopal Gas Tragedy?

In the early hours of December 3, 1984, methylisocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from a plant operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL)  at Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh).

The gas drifted over the densely populated neighbourhoods around the plant, killing thousands of people immediately and creating a panic as tens of thousands of others attempted to flee Bhopal.

The final death toll was estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000. Some half a million survivors suffered respiratory problems, eye irritation or blindness, muscular dystrophy and other maladies resulting from exposure to the toxic gas.

Several studies have found out that babies born to women exposed to gas were significantly more likely to have “congenital malformations” than those born to women unexposed to gas.

Note: Congenital anomalies comprise a wide range of abnormalities of body structure or function that are present at birth and are of prenatal origin.

What was the government’s response to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy?

The government passed the Bhopal Gas Leak Act in March 1985 which allowed it to act as the legal representative for victims. 

In 1989, the Indian government and Union Carbide struck an out-of-court deal and compensation of $470 million was given by UC. The Supreme Court also upheld it in a judgment. 

What is Methyl Isocyanate (MIC)?

Methyl Isocyanate is a colourless liquid used for making pesticides. MIC is safe when maintained properly. 

The chemical is highly reactive to heat. When exposed to water, the compounds in MIC react with each other causing a heat reaction. 

 

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