The Communist Party of India on Tuesday urged the Union government to bring in legislation to cover industrial accidents such as the Bhopal gas leak to enable fixing of liability on the part of operators and enforcing the “perpetrator pays principle.”

Party general secretary A.B. Bardhan said the government circulated a draft of the nuclear liability bill, but it did not clearly define liability and its extent, and did not spell out who should be made liable in case of a disaster. “There has to be a bill covering all industrial accidents,” he told reporters here.

Mr. Bardhan said a Group of Ministers constituted by the UPA-1 recommended that a commission be set up to deal with such accidents, but this did not happen. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had now constituted a Group of Ministers, giving it 10 days to submit a report.

“The Bill should cover liability, compensation and rehabilitation, and the GoM should fix the responsibility of cleaning up toxic wastes in water and land on the Dow Chemicals,” he said. The Prime Minister had given 10 days to the GoM, but “we will give the government time till the next session of Parliament.”

Mr. Bardhan alleged that Congress leaders were trying to cover up those responsible for the Bhopal disaster. The then Chief Minister, Arjun Singh, could have scripted the then Union Carbide chief, Warren Anderson's exit from Bhopal on the pretext of law and order. The chief of a multinational corporation could not have gone out of the country without the consent of the the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

He said the BJP could not pretend to be fighting the case, as “whatever dilutions that took place in the case occurred during its six-year-rule.” “Why did not the BJP enact a bill or file a revision petition in the court if it was so interested in the case?”

He also criticised the BJP for “its notorious formula” that all terrorists were Muslims. “It is very clear that the blasts at Ajmer, the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and Malegaon were conducted by outfits very close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Why the BJP is silent now and why its leaders are not speaking about them?”