When we look up at the calendar in the month of December, the first thing we notice is December 25th and December 31st but, if we flip through the pages of history, we’ll realize that the month of December is a witness to one of the world’s deadliest man-made disasters. Tears start dripping from the eyes and the heart starts bleeding when the sad memories of the Bhopal gas tragedy come to our minds. It has been 30 years since the mishap showed its ugly head but the wounds have not yet healed and I strongly believe that they’ll never ever heal.
Warren Anderson was the CEO of Union Carbide, a chemical company based in the United States of America. The company had started a subsidiary in India in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh,namely Union Carbide India limited. On the night of 2-3 December,1984 over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl Isocyanate and many other chemical gases. The toxic gas made its way in and around the shanty towns surrounding the pesticide plant. The cause of the disaster is still under debate. The local activists and the Indian government claims that the leak because of the negligence of the management at the Union Carbide plant. The Indian authorities say that created a situation where routine pipe maintenance caused a backflow of water into a MIC tank triggering the disaster. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) contends water entered the tank through an act of sabotage.
Nearly 10,000 people are said to have died because of the gas leak. Legal proceedings followed and the UCC was sued by the Government of India. In 1989 an out of the court settlement was reached in February 1989 and the Union Carbide Corporation agreed to pay US$ 470 million for the damages caused in the Bhopal Disaster. Crops were destroyed. Thousands of trees in the vicinity became barren overnight. Fishermen were forbidden to undertake fishing. Severe shortage of foodgrains followed the disaster. 30 years on, hundreds of survivors still suffer from the diseases caused by the gas leak. The gas leak killed thousands of people and many more were maimed. The question that still lirks out there on the is ” why did Warren Anderson die unpunished?”.
The CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster managed to escape punishment. Wasn’t the Indian law strong enough to serve Justice to those who died. Are laws in India functional merely on paper. The tragedy acted as a destroyer of many lives and thousands still continue to fight for justice. Well, we can only hope that those who slipped into the arms of death must have reached a better place wherein their souls could find peace. For the union Carbide it was a mere accident caused due to human negligence. But for a common man it was a dark day in the history of mankind not only because of the gas leak but also because prime culprit Warren Anderson escaped punishment. Prayers are still recited and justice still awaits to be served on the barren land of Bhopal. Thousands still pray for the rain to fall.