Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Bhopal Disaster

Bhopal Disaster took place in the early morning of December 3, 1984. It was due to the release of 27 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from Union Carbide India, Limited pesticide plant which is owned by Union Carbide.

The death toll in Bhopal Disaster reached a great height and till date many still suffers from illness caused due to the disaster.

The majority of deaths and serious injuries were due to pulmonary edema. Signs and symptoms of such exposure normally include cough, chest pain, lacrimation, eyelid edema, and unconsciousness. These over the next 24 to 72 hours may cause acute lung injury, cardiac arrest, and death.

Facts leading to the Bhopal Disaster was never exposed by the company, but blood and viscera of some victims claims cherry-red color characteristic of acute cyanide poisoning. Bhopal Disaster is still witnessing many of the survivors suffering from partial or complete blindness, persistent respiratory disorders, gastrointestinal problems, impaired immune systems, post-traumatic stress. An increase in spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and offspring with genetic disorders are also predominant.

The chemical accident in Bhopal Gas Tragedy was caused by the entry of water into methyl isocyanide holding tank. The resulting reaction gave rise to a major increase in the temperature of liquid within the tank (to over 200°C). This then produced a large volume of toxic gas, making the emergency release of pressure.

Bhopal Disaster is one of the worst happenings that the history has ever witnessed. Those who could survive the immediate death have become the prey to long lingering effects which is even more intolerable. The incident should be a lesson to the humanity.

Union Carbide Bhopal

Union Carbide Bhopal symbolizes one of the most tragic accidents in the industrial history of India. Being set up in the late hours of 1970s, Union Carbide is a division of the Union Carbide India Limited or UCIL. Equipped with 14 operational chemical plants, Union Carbide in India has a total man power of 9000. Union Carbide in Bhopal is mainly engaged in pesticide production. In fact a large portion of the pesticides used by the farmers of India is supplied by Union Carbide division of Bhopal.

In the the industrial history of Bhopal, Union Carbide disaster claims a prominent place. On December 8, 1984, the Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal came under the grip of such a chemical havoc which changed the entire scenario of its reputation. The chemical called methyl isocyanate started spreading from an in-house tank of the Bhopal plant and within a very short time managed to affect a large portion of the local population.

It is believed that as many as 38, 000 causalities occurred due to such gas leakage from the Union Carbide plant of Bhopal. After getting the tragic news, the chairman of Union Carbide at Connecticut came down to India where he had been kept under house arrest.

In the month of February, 1985, Union Carbide set up an Employees' Relief fund for those who have lost their relatives or have become permanently incapable of work due to the harsh effects of the chemical leakage. Bhopal Gas Leak Act had been passed in the same year of 1985 and a promise to enact strict chemical protection laws has been provided by the then government of Bhopal. From the year 2004 to 2006, the government of Madhya Pradesh took several initiatives to rehabilitate and facilitate the victims of Union Carbide tragedy.

Union Carbide Bhopal truly reminds the hapless state of all those who suffered the acute after-effects of the gas leakage.

Dow Bhopal

The Dow Bhopal is an undertaking of the international Dow Chemicals Company that has recently been merged with the Union Carbide Corporation in the city of Bhopal. The multinational organization has been rated as one of the premier chemical manufacturing companies of the world. The international office of the company is situated in the city of Michigan in the United States of America.

The Dow Chemicals Company produces pesticides for the use in the agricultural sector in India. The plant faced a catastrophic leak of the Methyl Isocyanate gas that instantaneously claimed the lives of 7000 people of the city. After twenty years, the death toll rose to 15000 people and more than 20000 people suffering ailment after being affected by the toxic gas. The Dow Company has not taken the responsibility of socially and economically rehabilitating the victims of the tragedy. The former Union Carbide Corporation had received the permission to clean up the site that would ensure the protection of the environment.

With the help of the international organization for human rights known as the Amnesty International, the affected victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy have placed their rightful demand of compensation to the Dow Bhopal. The company presented its statement issued on 3rd December in the year 2002 refusing the responsibility to resolve the problems of the victims owing to the expenditure cost and the moral binding that the company shares with the other business enterprises who have similar outstanding issues. The company continues to produce pesticides in the plant site in the city of Bhopal.

Amnesty Bhopal

The worst industrial tragedy of the 20th centuryJust before midnight on 2nd December 1984, when people were trying to go to bed, a US pesticide company Union Carbide waged the chemical war against the peace loving residents of Bhopal by fuming killer gas in Bhopal. It was one of the biggest industrial tragedies of the world, in which around half a million people were affected. The immediate death toll was more than 8,000; whereas 15,000 more died due to illnesses related to the incident over the next 20 years.

Delays and denials, 25 years after the tragedy

Amnesty International joined thousands of Bhopal gas victims on 2nd December 2009, 25 years after the tragic incident to bring justice to the affected. The state of affairs is so bad that despite global hue and cry the factory site has still not been cleaned up. The medical services are so poor that more than 100,000 people are still struggling with the after effects of the tragedy. The government of India, according to the Amnesty International has fallen short of its promises to provide rehabilitation, medical care and efforts to address the socio-economic effects of the tragedy.

Thousands of people have not received proper compensation, and government has never bothered to find the complete fact file of the case. Even after 25 years, no proper investigation has been done to probe the case. No person, agency or government body has ever been held accountable. No Indian or US judicial system has been used to provide justice to the victims.

The impact of the tragedy

According to Amnesty, Bhopal gas tragedy is not just a human rights tragedy; rather it is a human rights travesty. It is an absurd and grotesque misrepresentation of facts. The impact of tragedy is multiplied because the poor and illiterate masses of Bhopal have not succeeded yet to get the justice and claim their rights from the insensitive and inefficient government of India. They are still being denied justice as the lethal impacts of the tragedy are passing on to the new generations.

Ineffectiveness of the Indian government

Indian government has repeatedly promised and broken its promises made to the victims of Bhopal tragedy. Companies involved are ruthless and selfish to the core and instead of realizing their accountability; they are hampering the efforts for reparation. Amnesty International has issued a report in which they have clearly held the governments of the state of MP, the center and companies involved responsible for the delay in compensation, medical assistance, treatment, and comprehensive economic and social rehabilitation.

Recommendations for Indian government

In its recommendations, Amnesty International calls on the Indian government to take many actions to properly address the issue including requesting Special Procedures of the UN Commission on Human Rights to visit India to examine the after effects of Union Carbide tragedy, its effects on the environment including the groundwater of the surrounding areas and assess the human rights situation of the victims. It also asks the government to ensure proper food, livelihood and a respectable standard of living for the affected people of Bhopal.

Government should establish a special industrial area and provide industrial training to the physically and mentally affected people. It should include medical rehabilitation, vocational training for women, and social rehabilitation. Government should make laws to punish the officials and agencies for their failure to pay the compensation available and failure to register claims. There should be a national legislation to stop corruption, repression of activists and corporate failures to provide compensation. Government should also take care of the orphans of the tragedy, who are abandoned by the state.

Last Updated on 07/31/2013