Thirty years after the Bhopal gas tragedy claimed thousands of lives, a research and advocacy group today said that India needs to strengthen institutions, tools of compliance and monitoring and have a strict corporate liability regime to prevent such disasters in future.
Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which organised a public meeting to commemorate the tragedy, stressed on the need to strengthen institutions instead of making new ones that add to "multiplicity and confusion" to prevent such disasters from happening again.
"To prevent Bhopal 2.0...The first thing that must be done is strengthening of the institutions. We need to fix what is broken, and not make new institutions that add to multiplicity and confusion.
"The institutions should monitor compliance and enforce their directions. There is a need to improve the tools for compliance and enforcement. Penalties need to be increased and processes made transparent," CSE which also released a publication called 'Bhopal Gas Tragedy: After 30 years' said in a statement.
Noting that Bhopal must "never" be forgotten, CSE said Dow Chemical must be held liable for the toxic waste still present in the abandoned factory and it must pay for the plant site's remediation which must be done quickly before toxins spread more poison, travelling through groundwater into people's bodies.
"Systems of corporate liability cannot remain inadequate as high-risk and unknown technologies pose new challenges. Only then will powerful companies worry about the implications of their actions on tomorrow's generations.
"If we are to continue to use high-risk technologies then we must take on expensive safeguards, even if it makes technology uncompetitive. In the post-Bhopal age, all technologies must pay the real cost of their present and future dangers," director general of CSE Sunita Narain said.
CSE said that even if there has not been such a tragedy like that again, "the country continues to have many mini-Bhopals - industrial accidents, which take lives and throw up a huge challenge of hazardous waste contamination".