Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday extended support and sympathy to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy that occurred 25 years ago.

“The families that suffered and lost their dear ones can never really be fully compensated,” Dr. Singh said in a statement to mark the 25th anniversary of the disaster. “We owe it to our fellow citizens to put in place procedures and precautions to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs again,” he added. Sharing the grief of those affected by the “horrible tragedy”, Dr. Singh reaffirmed his government’s commitment to resolving issues of safe drinking water, speedy clean-up of the site, continuation of medical research, and any other outstanding issues connected with the disaster.

The Government has implemented several measures to provide relief to the affected families, including socio-economic and medical rehabilitation and improvement in living conditions. “Here, I would also like to salute the civil society groups who have persisted in pursuing justice and compensation to those who suffered,” Dr. Singh said.

Methyl Isocyanate, a lethal gas, leaked into the atmosphere from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide India in Bhopal on the night of December 3, 1984. The leakage resulted in over 5,000 people losing their lives and many others being incapacitated permanently. “The enormity of the tragedy still gnaws at our collective conscience,” Dr. Singh added.

The issue also echoed in the Rajya Sabha, where Chairman Hamid Ansari called upon the Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government to speedily settle the victims’ compensation claims. “The scars of the tragedy still haunt us in the form of incapacitated people and children born with deformities. It was indeed a human tragedy of unparalleled magnitude and shocked the conscience of the world,” Mr. Ansari said when the House met for the day.

The criminal human folly that caused the tragedy has been compounded by an indifferent attitude in subsequent years, he added. “It is incumbent on us, morally and legally, to do our utmost to support the surviving victims in every manner possible. Compensation claims must be settled expeditiously in a time-bound manner.”

Expressing sympathies with the victims, Mr. Ansari appealed to the State and Centre to “take expeditious steps to alleviate the sufferings of thousands of people who are affected by that man-made tragedy.”