India needs to rethink Bhopal disaster pay-out, says UN investigator

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Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak (video capture)

India's announcement that it's to give more cash to victims of one of the worst industrial disasters in history won't make the problem go away, according to a top UN human rights investigator.

Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak said that financial compensation alone will not put an end to the legacy left by the toxic gas leak from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal city 30 years ago.

That's because "new victims are being born every day and suffer lifelong from adverse health impacts", he explained.

The UN expert said it was good news that India is going to reconsider the official number of victims.

But the soil and groundwater around the site in central India are still contaminated despite the fact that people still live there.

"Toxic contamination remains in and around Bhopal and it's spreading. And so people are consistently and constantly being exposed to the toxic remnants of the Bhopal incident and the activities that happened there. Toxic waste is still around the site, it's leeching underground into groundwater and as that toxic contamination remains, new children are being born into the toxic environment and they'll suffer health impacts." (38″)

If the area is not cleaned the toxic legacy will continue to grow, along with India's financial liability to a rising number of victims, Mr Tuncak said.

Thousands of people were killed when lethal gas spewed from the chemical plant on the 2nd of December 1984.

According to official figures, 3,500 people died within days of the accident; international NGOs point to much higher figures.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’35″

 

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