On eve of Bhopal Gas Tragedy’s 35th anniversary, survivors form human chain near the abandoned factory

Leaking toxic gas from the now-defunct Union Carbide factory in Bhopal resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and left lakhs maimed on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984.

Published: 02nd December 2019 12:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd December 2019 12:12 AM   |  A+A-

A view of abandoned Union Carbide Factory is seen from Atal Ayyub Nagar one of the most affected areas in Bhopal Friday Nov. 23 2018. (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

BHOPAL: A human chain was formed by hundreds of survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy near the long-abandoned killer pesticide factory here on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the tragedy, which is widely acknowledged as the world’s worst industrial disaster.

Demonstrating near the site of the gas leak, the protesters demanded free health care, clean-up of the contaminated lands and adequate compensation from the Dow Chemical, which is the current owner of the Union Carbide.

The protesters also said that the MP Government plan to build a memorial to the disaster at the factory site was nothing, but a cover-up for the ongoing crime against the environment and people.

The human chain was formed under the banner of four organizations working for the victims of the 1984 tragedy.

Leaking toxic gas from the now-defunct Union Carbide factory in Bhopal resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and left lakhs maimed on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984.

“It is because of the reckless dumping of extremely poisonous waste within the pesticide factory till 1984 and outside the factory in 1996 that the groundwater has been found to be contaminated in places over four km from this factory. Since 1990, the groundwater in and around the factory has been tested some 16 times by government and non-government agencies and these have shown that pesticides, heavy metals and poisonous chemicals, including six persistent organic pollutants are present at depths greater than 30 metres and distances of several kilometers from the factory.” said Rashida Bee, who along with her colleague Champa Devi Shukla is a Goldman Environmental Prize awardee.

Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said, “According to the latest study by the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research-Lucknow, a central government agency, the groundwater in 42 communities with a total population of nearly 100,000 is contaminated and it continues to spread. The first thing that has to happen for ending this ongoing second  environmental disaster in Bhopal, is a comprehensive scientific assessment of the area within 5 km of the factory.”

“We took the generous offer of officials of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) to carry out scientific assessment of the Bhopal site to Prakash Javadekar when he was the Minister of Environment. He refused to accept the offer saying foreigners should not be involved in this project. Despite reports of extremely toxic chemicals in the groundwater by two central government agencies – the Central Pollution Control Board and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute – the central government has refused to acknowledge the growing problem let alone act on it,” added Khan.

As per Rachna Dhingra, a member of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action,"A study carried out by the state government in 2005 showed that residents who were drinking the contaminated groundwater were suffering from diseases of the eyes, skin and the respiratory and digestive systems. Despite this, and despite the Supreme Court of India’s clear directions in 2012, over 10,000 families who were exposed to the contaminated groundwater for up to 20 years continue to be denied the facility of free health care by the state and central governments.” said Rachna Dhingra, a member of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action.

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