Bhopal gas tragedy: “Financial compensation will never be sufficient without clean-up” – UN rights expert

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GENEVA (24 November 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxic waste, Baskut Tuncak, welcomed the announcement of the Indian Government to reconsider the official figures of people affected by the catastrophic leak of toxic gas in Bhopal in 1984, and provide additional compensation.

“However, financial compensation alone will not stop the ongoing human rights violations of Bhopal’s toxic legacy,” the human rights expert stressed. “New victims of the Bhopal disaster are born every day, and suffer life-long from adverse health impacts.”

Almost 30 years after one of the worst industrial accident in history, the soil and groundwater at the site of the old Union Carbide chemical factory in Bhopal remain contaminated despite the fact people live in and around the affected area.

“It is long overdue that action is taken to stop the ongoing violations,” Mr Tuncak said, emphasizing that the Indian Government has a human rights obligation to provide access to remedy.  

The Special Rapporteur explained that prevention of harm is an essential component of an ‘effective remedy’ where remedy for toxic chemical pollution is required. “In order to prevent harm, environmental remediation is essential,” he said.  
 
“Without cleaning the contamination, the number of victims of the toxic legacy left by Union Carbide will continue to grow, and, together, India’s financial liability to a rising number of victims,” Mr. Tuncak highlighted.