Bhopalis may sue for civil damages

They may have been disappointed by the first criminal verdict in the 1984 gas tragedy case, but Bhopal citizens could soon file for civil damages at a new forum — the National Green Tribunal, soon to be headquartered in their own city.

“I think there is a definite case for civil damages at the Tribunal for Bhopalis. They are still drinking contaminated water. They are still living in a toxic dump,” said Rachna Dhingra, an activist with the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

The Tribunal is one of Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh's pet projects, but he is cautious about the idea of Bhopal's citizens seeking succour there.

“I am not sure. That would be for the legal experts to decide,” Mr. Ramesh said.

The Minister has been keen on basing the Tribunal in Bhopal, in part because it would be “a very small tribute to the people who suffered there…We must ensure that we never have another Bhopal.”

The Tribunal came into existence with the Act passed in the last session of Parliament, and would become operational by this year end. It will be headed by a retired Chief Justice and hear civil cases on environmental complaints.

Mr. Ramesh added that a report on the cleaning up of the contaminated site — being conducted by the National Geophysical Research Institute, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute — will be submitted by the end of this month.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 9:22:07 PM |

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