The article “25 years and still waiting” (Dec. 2) presents the painful saga of the victims of Bhopal gas tragedy. Thousands of them have been left to live a pathetic life while successive governments have handled the sensitive case carelessly. That the main accused, Warren Anderson — CEO of Union Carbide Corporation during the disaster — remains far from India’s reach leading a comfortable life while the victims continue to bear the brunt of the world’s largest industrial disaster is unfortunate.
It is now over 25 years since the tragedy occurred and the blame game is still on. Why should the media and the public wait for an occasion — completion of an year or month — to highlight government apathy and inaction? They can be proactive and keep the pressure on the authorities.
It is an irony that in a country where a family quarrel on gas shares and the interests of politicians are addressed on a war footing, the sufferings of the victims of the worst industrial disaster are still a matter of debate.
The article is a wake-up call for India to secure Mr. Anderson’s extradition and make him accountable. The Bhopal gas leak was a crime against humanity. One wonders what would have been the fate of Mr. Anderson and his team if the accident had taken place in the U.S. or Europe.
Our government is equally to blame for the plight of the gas victims. The media, which pursue the Mumbai attacks case with such vigour, have done little with respect to the Bhopal tragedy in which thousands died, because it is not sensational. Developing countries ought to have access to justice in cases involving mighty industrial powers.
India should be very specific about what it wants to do — prosecute the 87-year-old Mr. Anderson or get reasonable compensation for the victims of the gas tragedy. Even if he is extradited and subject to judicial proceedings here, he will probably be sentenced to a term of five or six years in prison. In what way will it benefit the victims? As the tragedy was an accident, the government and those representing the victims should concentrate on getting a reasonable compensation for the gas-affected.
Mr. Anderson was allowed to leave the country in 1984 after he came here to assess the damage caused by the gas leak. Even in the event of a car accident which kills or injures someone, people gather around the site, thrash the driver, make him accountable and compensate the victim. But, alas, the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy have received a paltry sum. The failure to get Mr. Anderson extradited is a clear case of bad diplomacy.
V. Rama Rao,