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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

That Night When World Changed Forever in Bhopal


A fly sits on her nose. The five-year-old child only blinks but make no attempt to brush it away. She just lies still under the bed covers and stares into the space. There is no movement on her part. She can’t. She suffers for no fault of hers; her only bad luck is that she is born in Bhopal- a city that experienced the worst industrial disaster in the history of world.

I was thousands of miles away from India, in Surinam, Parimaribo, when this disaster happened, on 3rd December 1984 and I was too young to understand the results of this catastrophe. 

There were no Indian news channels that informed me the magnitude of this accident which had left  more than 6000 people dead, most of them falling by the road side trying to run for their lives after feeling suffocated while in deep mid-night sleep.  At exactly five past midnight in Bhopal 40 tons of deadly methyl isocyante(MIC) a toxic gas used in the manufacture of pesticides had leaked out from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant located in Bhopal.

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I had visited India many times before I decided to move back home in Mumbai, but still nobody ever discussed the tragedy of Bhopal.  Not that they did not care, but there was nothing good to talk about it. There were some random news clips from time to time, but people continued to move on, unaware of the suffering of the people who lived there and of those who continue to suffer even till now.

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Last evening I had an opportunity to see the award winning documentary film called ‘Bhopali ‘ which highlights how the corporation can get away with major crime against environment and against human life without any accountability. The chemical leak left almost 10,000 people incapacitated for life and more than 100.000 more being affected in some way or the other. The poisonous water is still consumed by the people, children play in the debris unmindful of the rusted metal lying around and activist are still fighting for justice….Justice to the people who have suffered because of their negligence of the industry with nobody claiming the responsibility and  providing a cleaning up of the city.


“Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2001. They are therefore responsible for the clean-up of the former Union Carbide Factory site in Bhopal, India. The area around the factory is densely populated and continues to be heavily contaminated by chemicals and toxins produced by the factory which Dow, despite their evident responsibility, have thus far refused to clean up.”

The Bhopal Medical Appeal makes regular grants to two organizations in Bhopal: one is the ChingariRehabilitation Centre run by the Chingari Trust and the second organization supported by the Bhopal Medical Appeal is the Sambhavna Trust which runs the Sambhavna Clinic. 



But just few miles away is the city of Bhopal, where people are not even aware of the suffering of these people. 


"I have lived in Bhopal for three years but still I did not know about the magnitude of the sufferings that I saw today in this film right now" said one girl from the audience after watching the film. 


She mentioned that there are two Bhopals and the one that she lived in was a beautiful city attracting tourists with its vibrant market places, beautifully carved Moti Masjid and it has broad avenues and posh residential areas. In the centre of Bhopal are two lakes dividing the new and the old city of Bhopal.


BHOPAL HAS JOINED THE roster of internationally recognized symbol-places along with Hiroshima, Auschwitz, Chernobyl-whose very names have become synonymous with the tragedies that have taken place within their precincts. Mention the word Bhopal to a person outside India, and they won’t think of a graceful city on the hills above two lakes with some of the most glorious Muslim architecture in India. They will think about what happened on the night of December 2 and the early morning of December 3, 1984, when an accident at a chemical plant owned by Union Carbide of Danbury, Connecticut, led to history’s worst industrial disaster............read more here
 am moved by the helplessness of the people and their suffering which goes on and on… “What can I do?” is the question that lingers on my mind at the end of the film and I search for answers………….



1 comment:

  1. This article reminds me of a documentary "Toxic", documentary looks how the ragedy that happened and still continues to affect the lives of people living there ... and how children born years later are still bearing the brunt of what happened two and a half decades ago.

    To watch this documentary visit - http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/4020

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