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Govt delaying new law for man-made disasters

Jun 12, 2010 10:43 PM IST Politics Politics

New Delhi: Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily is talking about bringing in tougher laws following the verdict in the Bhopal gas leak case.

The Bhopal tragedy happened in 1984 and killed over 15,000 people. Eight people have been found guilty in the case almost 26 years after the tragedy and sentenced to two years in jail, but all of them are out on bail.

Almost 10 years later 446 children died and over 200 others were injured in a major fire in Dabwali. The verdict in the case was a compensation of Rs 50 crore for victims.

Then two years later in 1997 a fire at Uphaar Cinema claimed the life of 59 people and over 100 others were injured. Six people were held guilty in the case and got one year in jail. But all of them are out on bail.

So predictably there is anger and outrage over the Bhopal verdict. But the reality is that in most man-made disasters, offenders walk free. The Law Minister now agrees its because the law is just not adequate.

"We need to have a law which can take care of the prevention aspect, which can look into compensation aspect and also the punishment," says Moily.

But many say Moily is just making empty promises with Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy President Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who campaigned against the Ansals in the Uphaar tragedy, claiming that the Government has been sitting on a proposal for a stronger legislation since last year.

"We realised that the biggest roadblock that we had to get Ansals convicted in 304-Part 2 was the Bhopal gas tragedy judgement which the Supreme Court had passed way back in 1996 where they changed 304-Part 2 to 304-Part A. Every time we argued, the defence counsel came up with the judgement," says Neelam.

Neelam made a presentation to the President of India, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and the Law Minister in July last year for a strong deterrent law against man-made tragedies, and for a national public safety commission on the lines of Canada, UK, and Japan.

While Moily wrote to her saying the Law Commission will take it on priority, there has been no action so far.

"Almost nine to 10 months since this has happened and nothing has been done. After that we seen Bangalore, we have seen Kolkata. I mean do we want more people to die," adds Neelam.

If the government truly values the lives lost in tragedies, it needs to walk the talk and bring in the new law.