How much to demand from Union Carbide or its successors for Bhopal gas disaster is the moot question. The Centre was offered to pick from three high amounts for additional compensation — Rs 5,263 crore, Rs 3,298 crore and Rs 2,936 crore. These were way beyond the Supreme Court-mediated Rs 675.96 crore that was settled as liability in 1989.
A concerned group of ministers on Monday disagreed with the amounts presented to it, calling the method of calculation “simplistic” and gave fresh guidelines for computation. The Centre has to mention the money in the curative petition to be filed in Supreme Court to seek additional compensation from UCC or its successors.
The Centre decided to challenge the apex court judgments of February and May 1989 and October 1991 as part of a clutch of measures decided in June to calm the reaction triggered by a Bhopal court ruling which handed out mild punishment to the accused in the gas leak case.
The high calculations put for GoM’s consideration, running to around Rs 6,000 crore, were arrived at by factoring in returns that investing the money given in 1989 as compensation would have generated and the application of consumer price index to the money.
The Centre will also seek Rs 739 crore as liability for additional ex gratia, which is up by Rs 70 crore since the Cabinet decision in June. The GoM had recommended additional money for 3,199 cases of permanent and 33,672 cases of temporary disablement but since then, over 1,700 cases have been added to both categories.
The curative petition is driven by the fact that number of victims that the apex court considered for arriving at compensation was incorrect, resulting in “gross miscarriage of justice”.
While the SC had considered 3,000 persons as dead, the actual figure is said to be 5,295. Similarly, the cases of temporary disability have been revised from 20,000 to 35,455; cases of minor injuries have been found to be 5.27 lakh as against 50,000 assumed earlier. Centre has stuck to its guns that Madhya Pradesh will have to do remediation and cleaning.