Govt to build memorial for Bhopal gas tragedy victims

      Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday that the government is planning to construct a memorial for the victims of the 1989 Bhopal Gas tragedy. More than 3,500 people died in the days and weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plant of Union Carbide in Bhopal on the night of December 2, 1984. The year 2009 marks 25th anniversary of one of the world's worst industrial disasters. Activists put the toll at 33,000 and say toxins from thousands of tonnes of chemicals lying in and around the site have seeped into ground water. Speaking to newsmen after visiting the abandoned plant Ramesh said, : "Government has prepared to construct a memorial for benefit of the people of Bhopal at the Union Carbide plant. The total cost of this proposal is about 110 crores.” He added that the government would clear the debris of the plant by early next year. It was estimated that about 350 tonnes of tarry waste lie in plastic sacks in the Union Carbide plant. The Union Carbide in 1984 accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a $100 million charitable trust fund to build a hospital for victims. Later Union Carbide was taken over by Dow Chemicals. The company also paid 470 million dollars to the Union Government in 1989 in a settlement reached after a protracted legal battle. The victims, on an average, received 25,000 rupees ($640) in case of illness and 100,000 rupees or so in case of a death in the family. The victims have been demanding action against companies like Dow Chemicals that now owns Union Carbide responsible for the world's one of the worst industrial disasters and the pathetic condition of victims. Michigan-based Dow Chemical says it is not responsible for the clean up as it never owned or operated the plant. The Madhya Pradesh Government now owns the abandoned plant.

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