New Delhi, India — The Indian government Friday told Parliament in its first report on the Union Carbide poison gas leak it will take steps to ensure “fair compensation” for the victims and to avoid a repeat of deadly accidents.

The official death toll in the Dec. 3 accident was placed at 1,408, but the government commissioned a house to house survey to produce a final list of the dead and injured, Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Virendra Patil said.

Indian news agencies estimated the number of deaths to be 2,000 to 2,500.

Patil said about 170,000 people were treated at 21 hospitals for effects of the gas and 10,700 were reported with serious injuries. He said the government so far dispensed compensation and aid to victims worth 10 million rupees, less than $840,000.

“Government is firmly resolved to take such steps as may be necessary to avoid the recurrence of such accidents, and to ensure fair compensation for those who have been affected by the tragedy,’”’ Patil said in a statement to the upper house of Parliament.

Patil reported on the government measures taken immediately after 45 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal.

Patil said the government was ‘‘considering various options available for obtaining adequate compensation for the victims of the gas tragedy and recovery of expenses incurred by Government.”

Multibillion dollar suits already have been filed against Union Carbide in the United States on behalf of private individuals.

Patil said a final decision of whether the government will also sue Union Carbide will be made after the Indian attorney general: returns from his current trip to the United States.

He said the government already has set up a special unit to study the methods developed countries use to control companies using hazardous substances in order to improve safety in India.

Four teams of government researchers have been assigned to study the symptoms of the toxic gas victims and the long-term effects on health and the environment, Patil said.


Article extracted from this publication >> January 25, 1985