Bhopal: Congress has a lot to answer for Sunday, Jun 13 2010 

Bhopal Memorial

Bhopal Memorial

The Congress bosses, especially Arjun Singh, have a lot to answer for the aftermath of the Bhopal tragedy in 1984. The government not only failed to prosecute all those responsible for the accident but also failed to force Union Carbide and its successor from cleaning up the site.

Union Minister of Finance Pranab Mukherji’s statement on June 12 that Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson was let off because of law and order problems in Bhopal comes of not just as a very weak excuse but confirmation of the government’s culpability. If there were threats to Mr. Anderson, the accused could easily have been moved to any place outside Bhopal.

The role of Mr. Arjun Singh, then the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, in speeding up the bail and transportation out of Bhopal for Mr. Anderson is evident. What is not known for sure is who from the Centre had directed him to do so. As Chief Minister and later as the member of Union Government’s committee that dealt with the tragedy, Mr. Singh failed to stand by the victims of the man-made disaster.

Mr. Mukheriji’s statement that the government would appeal against the court verdict in Bhopal case is intended to hoodwink the public. An appeal can serve little when the prosecution case was not presented strongly in the trial court.

The government breached the trust of the people in the Bhopal case after enacting law that made the government the sole trustee of victims in legal proceedings. It should not be allowed to go ahead with the Nuclear Liability Bill which would cause much more injustice if a nuclear accident occurs.

Related: Bhopal gas victims get some promises after 24-years

Terrorism of a different order Saturday, Jan 10 2009 

A queue for petrol before a petrol bunk on Friday

A queue for petrol before a petrol bunk on Friday

The fuel shortage that gripped the country following the strike by oil sector offices association should be an eye opener to all. It showed that we can strike heavier than the terrorists. And the official machinery and the people could be taken by surprise when the petrol bunks dried up one after another. Nothing much different from the situation we faced when terrorists struck Mumbai and other places.

If the strike had gone on for one more day, several sectors of the economy and critical services would have come to a standstill. Of course, that is hypothetical. However, we cannot still guarantee that it would not happen tomorrow.

As a country we are ill-prepared to handle any king of emergency or disaster ranging from terrorist attacks to natural calamities. Though we have disaster management policies and agencies to handle industrial accident and natural calamities, few districts have assessed the risks they face and are fully prepared to act in the case of emergency. Preventive measures are hardly taken ever taken even if there is prior warnings about disasters. Perhaps that is nothing when compared to communal clashes and strikes which we fail to prevent even if there is advance intelligence.