The government on Thursday said that ex-gratia payment to the victims of the Bhopal gas leak would be completed by December.

The Union Cabinet had sanctioned Rs.740 crore as ex gratia to them, Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Srikant Jena told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour. He said Rs. 519.12 crore had already been disbursed among the victims, and the remaining payment would be made soon.

The Group of Ministers, constituted on the gas tragedy, had recommended payment of compensation/ex gratia to identified categories of victims. It had recommended Rs.10 lakh compensation/ex gratia to the next of kin of the 5,295 people dead; Rs.5 lakh to those with injury of utmost severity and permanent disability; Rs.2 lakh to those who contracted cancer and diagnosed with renal failure; and Rs.1 lakh to those with temporary disability, Mr. Jena said.

A Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) facility had evinced keen interest in taking the waste from the gas tragedy site for disposal at their installation in Nagpur.

At this point, Congress member Datta Meghe (Wardha) opposed the burning of such waste in Nagpur, contending that it would put the health of 25 lakh residents of the city at risk.

Mr. Jena said the DRDO would be allowed to take away the Bhopal gas accident waste, provided it got clearance from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.