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Panel on Bhopal gas tragedy reconstituted under Chidambaram

New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reconstituted the empowered group of ministers which has been tasked with suggesting remedial measures to help the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, the worst ever industrial disaster in the world.

‘Yes, the empowered group has been reconstituted as on May 26. It had been originally set up in 2008,’ a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office told IANS Wednesday, adding that Home Minister P. Chidambaram will be heading the high-powered panel.

The other members of the group include Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Law Minister Veerappa Moily, Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath, Housing Minister Kumari Selja and Fertiliser Minister M.K. Azhagiri.

Minister of State for Environment Jairam Ramesh and Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan are also its members, while the minister for Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department in the Madhya Pradesh government is a permanent invitee.

‘The terms of reference of the group is to examine all issues relating to the Bhopal gas tragedy. The group will make appropriate recommendations on remedial measures that can be taken for rehabilitation of victims and their families,’ the official added.

Tonnes of lethal gas had leaked from the Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal on the night of Dec 2-3 in 1984, killing about 3,500 instantly and thousands later.

A court in Bhopal had Monday held Union Carbide India and seven of its officials guilty of criminal negligence and had sentenced the officials to two years’ imprisonment. The seven were later released on bail.

Both Law Minister Moily and Environment Minister Ramesh had termed the verdict ‘very unsatisfactory’ and had said they would work for stricter laws and focus on ensuring implementation of environment protection laws to ensure such incidents do not occur in future.

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