Being in Bhopal, How Can I Forget This Day – A Gas Tragedy That Ruined Lives

By at 3 December, 2009, 10:28 pm

Bhopal Twenty Five Years On From Union Carbide Disaster

Midnight 2-3 December changed lives of the thousands of people living in Bhopal. One of the most prosperous industrial cities was changed into a graveyard.

The gross negligence of Union Carbide lead to one of the biggest industrial disaster throughout the world. Methyl Isocynade and other toxins released from the disaster resulted in around 20,00o deaths. The official figures have never revealed the real estimates. OFFICIALLY the disaster was not of that greater magnitude as presupposed by the victims or the activists. They believe that the miseries of people are just exaggeration of reality. The people are pretending to have chronic diseases and the congenital deformities in their children is a myth.

There were number of hospitals established to treat the victims of Bhopal Gas tragedy who were effected by serious respiratory, vision and  skin diseases. But now the hospital administration believe that other patients are more worthy of treatment and that is why the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Victims have to wait for hours to get their Chemotherapy. They are generally attended in afternoons at the convenience of the doctors. Most the victims are not covered under the ambit of relief because they did not possess rashion cards.

It is unfortunate that our leaders never realized that the victims of the saga were not from elite societies but were mostly poor and destitute who were deprived of both education and resources. They were the people who were unable to understand the ENGLISH spoken in the courts, they were the people who could not afford trips to Supreme Court and they are the people who still don’t know the names of the disease they are suffering from. They were twice victimised once when the gas leaked and again when the fought for justice.

Bhopal Tragedy  still awaits a decesion. What was done was only a settlement of 470 million dollars. And ironically the Supreme Court did not consider children below age of 12 years as victims. May be the gas chosed to effect people according to their age. Most of the victims could not convince the administration in spite of their miseries.

People have been writing PIL’s to Supreme Court but the most of the people consider the matter closed. No criminal prosecution was ever held on Union Carbide. The settlement that was done was on ex gratia payment and as a moral duty. People who were associated with Union Carbide were later on promoted with high judicial and admistrative positions. The trial was a mockery of the Indian Legal System. The victims were victimised again and again and the criminal were given special treatment in the embassy.

The accident site still contains hazardous materials which have not been cleared by the government or by the Union Carbide. The underground water of the place is contaminated with toxins. The people are forced to consume such non potable water because they can afford either medicines or potable water.

In 1991 came the Liberalization, Privatization and Globalisation Policy of the country since then India have progressed drastically but the Victims of Bhopal Saga  are still there where they were in 1984.

Things have not changed for them they still meet every Sunday in parks and discuss their sorrows. They have little means to support themselves the only thing keeping their struggle alive is their zeal to fight against injustice done to them but if there interests are constantly ignored then a day would come when Bhopal Gas Tragedy would be just an unfortunate incident and not a disaster.

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Categories : Corporates | Legal Mirror | Social Issues

Harsh Gagrani December 7, 2009

One more thing. People have been talking about mumbai blasts and jaipur blasts which killed hundreds. Hang Kasab, hang Afzal. These people no doubt should be hanged. But what about the man to who was responsible(vicariously)for the Bhopal disaster. As compared to hundreds killed in mumbai and jaipur, more than 25000 people were killed in Bhopal. And as compared to thousands ‘indirectly’ affected in these places, 5 lakh people were affected in Bhopal. Where is Warren Anderson? Where did his trial go? Don’t you think the people of Bhopal deserve a bit more than just a meagre compensation(which they got after years of legal battle)? I live in Bhopal, couple of kilometers from the Union Carbide plant. I have seen the victims, and their plight. Compensation cannot and has not undone any damage. But punishing Anderson might come closest to it.

Naman December 7, 2009

hey harsh, though i have never stayed or for that sense visited Bhopal, but i totally affirm with you are saying. Why does it happen that celebrities, politicians & rich people always escape the punishments..

a person as higher up as Warren, who is handling operations of such a huge corporate should be responsible and guilty enough to pay dues from his personal wealth.. punishing him might not be the right way, but at least the damages need to be payed by the corporate who was responsible for causing such a disaster..

meghna December 7, 2009

Hi Harsh and Naman,

I totally agree with what both you are saying. You are right corporates cannot escape their liability by paying money. They cannot assume that they have right to take lives of people, just because they would pay compensation to their heirs. Warren should have been punished and even if it would have not brought lives back it would have ensured faith of individuals in the legal system.

Unfortunately Warren was never convicted or fined or even criminally tired for his gross negligence.

Harsh Gagrani December 8, 2009

@ Naman

Damages were payed by Union Carbide to the tune of 470 million. But as it happens everywhere(or atleast in India), most of the money evaporated(and entered the pockets of the government officials) and most of the gas victims were paid a meager sum. Even worse, many people who were not even close to the site of the incident that night(and were not affected in any way) were also paid. I read somewhere that even of you were travelling in a train that crossed Bhopal that night, you will be paid. Such a mockery of the whole system.

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