Bhopal disaster victims seek to quadruple compensation

Victims of the devastating 1984 industrial gas leak in Bhopal, India, have appealed to the country’s Supreme Court to quadruple the amount of compensation they will receive. They have long charged that the Indian government has been slow to distribute funds from a $470 million settlement paid by U.S.-based Union Carbide, owner of the plant, to the Indian government in 1989. On Tuesday, a favorable Supreme Court ruling ordered the government to release the money remaining from the settlement, some $330 million, and accepted a sharp rise in the estimated number of victims, from the 105,000 listed in 1989 to 572,000, accounting for new births and previously unreported cases. However, the victims are appealing to quadruple the amount, based on the higher number of cases, though it’s unclear where the additional money would come from. At a press conference yesterday, victims pleaded their case and told their tragic stories, like that of 80-year-old Shanti Devi, who lost her husband and his two businesses and has been forced to spend her savings caring for her children and grandchildren. Devi is to receive $2,200 in compensation.