NATIONAL POLITICS: Bhopal panel seeks Rs 1300cr relief – No word on Anderson release, damages 10 times higher for kin of dead

NATIONAL POLITICS: Bhopal panel seeks Rs 1300cr relief – No word on Anderson release, damages 10 times higher for kin of dead – let the dead rest in peace and the painful wounds to heal ?!!

Disaster Aid - an equitable closure ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY SANJAY K JHA

New Delhi, June 21: The group of ministers on the Bhopal gas tragedy has chosen to remain silent on the controversy over Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson’s escape from justice but called for fresh efforts to extradite the American.

Members of the panel, which submitted its report to the Prime Minister today recommending a Rs 1,300-crore package for the victims’ families and those affected, claimed in public that Anderson’s release was not on their agenda. The Congress, which has been avoiding the issue, had earlier said the panel would look into it.

But sources said Anderson’s release was discussed and that the panel had sought government records of 1984 when the then Union carbide chief had been flown out of Bhopal days after the December 4 gas leak.

The external affairs ministry told the panel there were no records to show that the then Rajiv Gandhi government had promised Anderson safe passage or tried to get him released.

The issue was promptly set aside as the panel’s priorities were, in any case, to address the core concerns of the victims and other key issues related to the 1984 tragedy in which over 15,000 people died. It was decided that the row over Anderson’s flight would be tackled separately at the political level.

The sources said the panel had, however, suggested the need for fresh efforts to bring Anderson — declared an absconder — to justice, though the move seemed a foregone conclusion. The ministers couldn’t have ignored the demand in the face of the public outcry after the June 7 verdict in which seven accused got away lightly.

Home minister P. Chidambaram, who headed the panel, stressed that the immediate focus was “to bring relief to those people who had suffered as a result of the ghastly tragedy”.

“We have dealt with all issues — compensation, pursuing the extradition of Warren Anderson, the legal options available to the government, the remediation (clean-up) issues and health-related matters. We think we have made significant recommendations. GoM is not over. It will continue to address any issue that will come up before it,” Chidambaram said.

The 12-page report wasn’t made public as the cabinet is to discuss it at a special meeting on Friday. But surface transport minister Kamal Nath, one of the panel’s members, gave the details of the compensation suggested (see chart). For the purpose of relief, the panel accepted that 15,342 deaths had occurred from the leak.

A key recommendation is to file a curative petition against the Supreme Court’s 1996 judgment diluting charges against the accused. Other measures suggested include taking steps to strengthen the country’s legal framework to deal with similar industrial disasters and a special plan to clean up the Bhopal plant site.

The Centre is likely to pay for the clean-up, for which Rs 310 crore will be set aside. The panel has suggested floating a global tender for the job, to be carried out under the supervision of the government-run National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (Neeri), Nagpur. The process, which involves burying toxic waste, is to be completed in three years. A memorial to the victims is also planned.

But Madhya Pradesh minister Babulal Gaur, a member of the central panel, was unhappy with the relief recommended. He had sought Rs 5,000 crore.

BJP puts Bihar pot before pride – Snub swallowed but threat remains – the National Issues more important ?!!

Nitin Gadkari, The BJP Statesman - getting the BJP house in order at any cost ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU

June 21: The crisis in Bihar’s ruling coalition appeared on the mend today with the BJP blinking first, though with reservations and the potential to threaten the alliance in future.

The BJP indicated that “in the larger interest of Bihar’s development”, it was willing to digest the snub from Nitish Kumar and continue its tie-up with the Janata Dal (United).

Nitish had on June 12 virtually told a visiting Narendra Modi he was unwanted in Bihar, irked by patronising ads published by the Gujarat government. He recently returned the Rs 5-crore flood aid sent by the Modi government in 2008.

“The situation is under control,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.

“A potter cannot break the pot he himself has shaped,” he added, making it evident that senior leaders such as L.K. Advani and Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Modi wanted the tie-up to continue.

Hussain and Bihar BJP chief C.P. Thakur had briefed Advani for an hour in the morning, and party chief Nitin Gadkari was expected to meet the veteran tonight.

Nitish and Sushil Modi showed up together at the oath-taking of the state’s first woman chief justice but were not seen speaking to each other. Sushil had yesterday skipped a Viswash Yatra meeting attended by Nitish.

“There is no tension, so relax,” Nitish said, speaking for the first time to the media on the rift.

Narendra Modi - still unashamedly a fly in the BJP ointment ?!!

Problems remain, though. The BJP would not say if Narendra Modi might campaign in Bihar in the run-up to the state polls. Another attempt by the minister to embarrass Nitish could still cause the alliance to come unstuck.

That the BJP had adopted the Advani line was evident when Hussain said that with the exception of the Shiv Sena, the Dal (United) had been the BJP’s oldest ally in the years since the temple agitation. The Dal (United), in its earlier avatar as the Samata Party, had been one of the first to embrace the “untouchable” BJP in the early 1990s.

However, the BJP is hurting from Nitish’s move to return the flood aid cheque, and from the fact that it had to call a truce unilaterally.

“This money wasn’t a wedding gift to be returned when the relations between the bride and the groom break down,” a senior leader said.

EARLIER

URDU PRESS: Azamgarh girls in Modi ad: Attempt to befool Muslims, Abid SuhailNarendra Modi in the firing line for being overanxious with PM ambitions ?!!

The controversial photo: Azamgarh girls in Modi ad - shot himself in foot, did Narendra Modi ?!!

From The Times of India

Jun 20, 2010, 10.33pm IST: The three Muslim girls shown in the photograph of a Gujarat government advertisement in many Bihar dailies on the occasion of the BJP conclave to reinforce Modi’s claim that Muslims are doing very well in his rule, do not even belong to that state.

The girls shown in hijab in the advertisement are students of Shibli National College, Azamgarh, and have nothing to do with Gujarat.

The story, which made headlines on page 1 in Rashtriya Sahara, Aag and Sahafat (13|6), claims the photographs have been picked up from the Website 2 Circles Net that had telecast a programme on Shibli College on November 24 last year.

The reporter, Mumtaz Alam Falahi, said he had himself taken the photographs whose originals were with him and the story with the website was still there which anybody could see. Falahi and Shibli College management may file suit against Gujarat government on different counts.

The claim, if true, may be a great embarrassment for the BJP and Modi– already let down by Nitish Kumar– for publishing his photograph hand-in-hand with Modi.

Interestingly, Nitish has not denied the genuineness of the photograph. Commenting, Aag (14/6) perceives the entire episode as a bid by Modi and Nitish to befool the Muslims and garner their votes. However, the daily blames the Muslims as well for allowing the politics of “befooling” to work.

Back with the book: `Qaumi Khabren’ (19/6) is happy on the prospects of Jaswant Singh’s return to the BJP, and that too with his book in his hand for which he was ousted from the party.

The daily recalls the Advani event of a similar sort in which he had to virtually eat his words to be excused by RSS and adds that Jaswant did not budge an inch from his position on Jinnah and yet he is being taken back in the party.

The daily interprets the possibility as the victory of Jaswant. Referring to some political pundits, the daily seems to agree that in case of BJP victory in the next Lok Sabha elections, Jaswant may even wear the mantle of premiership. (*?!!)

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