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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 12:15 GMT
Press says justice eludes Bhopal victims
Calls for justice for survivors and families

Indian papers sound a common theme on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster. More should have been done and needs to be done for the victims, in terms of securing justice, long-term medical help and compensation.

A number of papers turn their attention to the ongoing risks that the chemicals industry poses to India's people and environment.

"Even after two decades: Justice eludes victims", says Bhopal's Central Chronicle in its editorial headline.

The paper catalogues what it sees as a long list of failings by the authorities since the disaster.

It is high time the Supreme Court reopened the 1989 settlement in view of the unfolding magnitude of the disaster.
Times of India

"Still a large number of affected people are moving from pillar to post either to get treatment or rehabilitation. The government of India has failed to extradite former UCC [Union Carbide Corporation] chief Anderson who has been held guilty of the incident. The noxious chemical area has not been cleaned even after a lapse of 20 years," it says.

"The pact between India and USA has been beyond the interest of victims," is the paper's conclusion.

'Chemical Hiroshima'

The Times of India says that since that dreadful night which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, Bhopal has had to live with "20 years of tragedy, neglect and struggle."

"Two decades on, the pain hasn't eased for any of the survivors and tens of thousands are still struggling for survival and justice for what many describe as the 'chemical Hiroshima'," it says.

In its main editorial the paper urges the authorities to act to redress past wrongs.

"In 2001, Dow Chemicals acquired UCC and said it owed nothing to the Bhopal victims. It is high time the Supreme Court reopened the 1989 settlement in view of the unfolding magnitude of the disaster," it says.

"The Bhopal chief judicial magistrate should summon Dow at the earliest," it urges. "Class action suits in the US have led to huge compensations; the Indian system should allow for the same in an age of corporate accountability."

National Commission call

"Time seems to have stood still for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims. There does not seem to be an end to their battle for justice," says Jaipur's Dainik Bhaskar.

Whole regions are ticking time bombs
The Indian Express

The Inqilab daily, published in Mumbai (Bombay), says the government "should set up a National Commission for the people affected by the Bhopal gas disaster and try in every possible way to get them justice".

"If this is done," it says, "all those faces that have not been able to smile for the past 20 years will look at the Manmohan Singh government with eyes bespeaking their congratulations."

'Ticking time bombs'

For The Indian Express, the country is "still grappling with the consequences of Bhopal", and it is far from clear what has actually changed since the disaster.

"The magnitude of suffering alerted us... to the dangers of chemical pollution," the paper says, "yet as a commentator in these columns has pointed out, if another Bhopal were to happen today, we may not respond any differently in spite of the considerable information we have gleaned since then."

It says that in 2004 alone dozens of lives have been lost in accidents involving chemical explosions and leaks.

"Whole regions are ticking time bombs, whether it is the "golden corridor" of Gujarat's Valsad-Vapi region, the chemical industrial estates of Cuddalore, regarded as the 'smelliest place in Tamil Nadu', the asbestos wastes left in the abandoned mines of Jharkhand's Roro Hills, or indeed the toxic neighbourhoods in every one of our cities," the paper says.

"We need a matrix of environmental governance in place and the 20th anniversary of Bhopal is a good moment to conceive it," it concludes.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

What remains of the factory where the disaster began

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