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  • » 12/03/2009, 00.00

    INDIA

    The scourge of Bhopal is still alive after 25 years

    Nirmala Carvalho

    On the night between 2 and 3 December 1984 a gas leak from the Union Carbide plant killed 20 thousand people. The population of the city of Madhya Pradesh awaits justice. Even today, every day, 6 thousand people with respiratory, motor and brain problems related to the tragedy arrive at hospitals in Bhopal.

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of people attended the protest march today to commemorate the victims of the 1984 disaster in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh State.

    On the night between 2 and December 3, 25 years ago a leak of 40 tons of methyl isocyanate from the pesticide factory of U.S. multinational Union Carbide invaded the Indian city. Within hours, about 3 thousand people who had inhaled the gas died and in the days after the death toll climbed to reach 20 thousand.  

    Still today the data on the worst industrial disaster in history is unclear: estimates for the number of poisonings caused by toxic gas speak of at least 150 thousand people, the permanently disabled at least 150 thousand. What is certain is that in 2006 the contamination was still active and still today, every day, 6 thousand people with respiratory problems, motor and brain illnesses related to the tragedy of December 3, 1984 arrive in the hospitals of Bhopal.

    25 years later, survivors are still awaiting justice. In 1989, Union Carbide paid a fine of 470 million dollars to the Indian government, leaving the government of Madhya Pradesh to reclaim the area. Babulal Gaur, Minister of State said that the area is not contaminated, but cancers, skin diseases, respiratory deficiency, malformations of babies are still prevalent among the people of Bhopal.  

    Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (Pvchr) tells AsiaNews that "today is the anniversary of 25 years of justice denied in Bhopal." He remembers that the population still bears the marks of the "night of terror" in 1984 and that the consequences of the tragedy continue to emerge.  

     25 years later, women, often the silent victims of the contamination, are beginning to tell their stories. "Many of them have never left the walls of the house until now," said Lenin, "and only now are they telling their problems to the press and presenting themselves to the authorities."  

    The Director of Pvchr laments the partisanship of the investigations conducted, and says that despite the tragic example of Bhopal “reports on areas at risk of contamination submitted to inspections and safety standards are rare”.  According Raghuvanshi India is a country where "the violation of the law has become an artform".

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    See also

    22/02/2008 INDIA
    Bhopal survivors march on New Dehli
    A hundred people, victims of one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, travel 700 kilometres on foot to the capital. They are asking for complete compensation and regeneration of the environment.

    07/06/2010 INDIA
    Bhopal 26 years later the sentence: two years in prison for 15 thousand dead and 600 thousand intox
    The court sentenced eight people over 1984disaster when the cyanide gas leaked from the Union Carbide factory and poisoned in people sleeping in the slums. The sentence is two years in prison each. Victims protests.

    09/06/2010 INDIA
    Indian activist: Bhopal ruling, "symbol" of decayed justice
    Lenin Raghuvanshi, director Pvchr speaks of a "black day" for the survivors of the tragedy. Sentence to two years in prison for the defendants - already free on bail - shows the shortcomings of a system that is "powerless before international elite ". The Madhya Pradesh government announces an appeal.

    10/08/2011 INDIA
    Olympic sponsor’s responsibility in Bhopal disaster angers Indians
    Indian authorities and an NGO call for an end to sponsorship, saying it violates Olympic code of ethics. Dow Chemicals, which now owns the plant that poisoned to death 20,000 people in 1984, rejects the blame, noting that it bought the plant in 2001.

    20/07/2004 INDIA
    Union Carbide victims get compensation 20 years later
    Bishop Topno expresses satisfaction at the decision



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