보팔희생자들은 지난 화요일 희생자수가 지난 몇년간 늘어난 만큼 보상금의 5배 인상을 요구하는 대법원 소송을 벌일 것이라고 밝혔다.
유니언카바이드사가 보상할 때에는 독성가스 염화메틸 누출로 인해
약 3000명이 죽고 1만2천명이 아픈 것으로 추정되었다.
1989년에 받아 현재 남아있는 1500만 300루피 (3억 2500만 달러)를 분배하도록 한 지난 월요일의 판결도 독성가스누출로 인해 1만5천명이 죽었고, 최소 55만명 이상이 병에 걸렸다고 추정한 최근 정부의 통계를 인정했다.
“이제 재난의 규모가 1989년에 비해 5배나 더 크다는 것이 분명하므로 보상금도 다섯배가 되야한다”고 보팔피해자투쟁위원회 부위원장인 N.D. Jayaprakash가 말했다.
위원회는 수천명의 가스피해 여성들을 대표하는 단체와 함께 연방정부가 가스 누출 이후에 태어난 희생자들에게 보상금을 더 지불하도록 하는 소송을 재기할 것이라고 밝혔다.
1991년도의 판결에 따르면, 재난의 규모가 예상과 달리 커졌을때 정부는 부족액을 채워야 한다고 되어있다.
By Kamil Zaheer
NEW DELHI, July 20 (Reuters) – Victims of India’s Bhopal gas tragedy said on Tuesday they will file a plea with the country’s top court for a five-fold jump in compensation as the number of known victims had soared in recent years.
In December 1984, tonnes of toxic gas leaked from U.S.-based Union Carbide’s plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal, killing thousands of people almost immediately and injuring tens of thousands.
Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical Co. (DOW.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , paid $470 million in compensation to residents in 1989, but only some of that amount has been distributed due to legal and bureaucratic tangles over categorisation and the genuineness of claims.
At the time of the settlement with Union Carbide, it was estimated around 3,000 people had died and 102,000 were ill as a result of the deadly methyl isocyanate gas leaking into the air.
But a Supreme Court verdict on Monday ordering the disbursement of the remaining 15.03 billion rupees ($325 million) compensation given in 1989 also accepted the latest government figures that around 15,000 had died and over 550,000 victims were eligible for compensation due to exposure-related illnesses.
“It is now clear the magnitude of the disaster was five times greater than originally thought in 1989, so the amount of compensation should be five times greater as well,” N.D. Jayaprakash, co-convenor of the Committee for Struggle for Bhopal Gas Victims, told a news conference.
The committee, along with a group representing thousands of women affected by the gas leak, said they would file a plea with the Supreme Court next week asking the federal government to pay more to the victims, some of whom were born after the gas leak.
In a verdict in 1991, the Supreme Court said if the extent of the tragedy — and number of victims — was found to be more than initially estimated, the Indian government would make good the shortfall in compensation.
“There will be a legal battle,” Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaisingh said. “We are going to ask the Supreme Court to direct the government to make good the shortfall. What compensation victims have received until now is inadequate.”
Activists say the government should try to get more money from Union Carbide to pay the extra compensation they are seeking.
India continues to pursue criminal charges against ex-Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson, now retired in New York state.
An Indian investigation found that the gas leaked into the air while workers of the company were cleaning a tank.
Many victims continue to suffer shortness of breath and a burning sensation in their chest and throats. ($1 = 46.11 rupees)
© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.