25 Years Later, Toxic Waste Torments Bhopal - NYTimes.com


The Bhopal gas tragedy happened 25 years ago, yet the causalties continue to pour in. When the Iraq war happened, US citizens poured into the streets to protest...however futile the protests may have seemed, the public outrage left its mark. In Bhopal, India, in contrast, where one of the worst industrial disaster in history occured, where people suffered and continue to suffer, the public (and government) apathy is appaling. A hunger strike that continues in Delhi to attract the ever-elusive government attention continues as I write these lines. Why does the gas tragedy repeat itself again and again in children born and raised in the area? Do we deem them a part of history too: to be mourned with the rest?

6 users have voted.



nitiniitk's picture

Everyone has heard/read about the gas tragedy, but the current status is something that is not clear, and there seems to be lot of miscommunication. I read somewhere that some agreement was reached between the government and the company (Dow or Union Carbide) and the issue was settled, but the compensation was not satisfactory. Is that true? If so, the Indian/state govt deserves more blame than the company.. Do you have more information about this?

Amrita's picture

Hi Nitin,
The Indian Government is certainly not blameless, but the tragedy was caused by Union Carbide which along with its then CEO Warren Anderson continue to evade Indian courts and when Dow bought Union Carbide, by both Indian and American law, it not only inherited its assets but also its liabilities. Here are a couple od videos which give details of the how-when-why of the tragedy.
The below video shows the current problem in Bhopal and the plight of the protestors who are demanding justice
Its also interesting to note that 20 US senators wrote a letter to Manmohan Singh earlier this year holding Dow responsible for what had happened in Bhopal:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/US_Senators_Hold_Dow_responsibl... .In spite of that the Indian Government has failed to react.The blame certainly lies on both sides: one for criminal injustice and recklessness and the other one for selling out to them...

pulkit's picture

As some of you may be aware, there exists an international campaign for justice in Bhopal - http://studentsforbhopal.org/ - in which there are people involved from all over the globe. Visit this link for SfB's demands: http://studentsforbhopal.org/CampaignDemands.htm .

There are simple ways in which anyone interested can contribute to this campaign. These could range from faxing or phoning govt officials to opposing DOW's collaboration with your company or institute. Some of us had joined the Global Hunger Fast on 28th June to show solidarity with some Bhopalis who had gone on an indefinite fast in Delhi. The fasts were registered online for the sake of visibility (to the Bhopalis as well as outsiders). One can also join the peaceful public protests which are held from time to time (There was one in B'lore days before the global fast).

sejal's picture

You can also visit http://www.bhopal.net/ for more information on all the events.

mynk's picture

Hey Amrita,

I happened to see the videos you mention from an independent source. Please embed them in the story (you can get the embed code on the utube page). It might be missed in the comments. I think the videos are very informative and a must watch!!!

Chandni's picture

From: Hormazd
Date: 2009/11/6

Dear all:

The Hindu Group of Newspapers has sought out Dow Chemicals as sponsor
for Chennai's signature event -- the November Music Festival that runs
from 17 November to 22 November.

Check out: http://www.hinduonnet.com/novemberfest/who.htm for program
and other details. Take Action Against this sponsorship. The Hindu and
the Frontline magazine have been consistent and sensitive in covering
Bhopal over the last two decades. It is unfortunate that these
publications have succumbed to the financial offer from Dow in this
25th anniversary of the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

Regardless of where you are from, please call, write, sms the
organisers. Tell them you're a music lover and that you're distressed
that a corporate criminal that is sheltering Union Carbide is
sponsoring this wonderful event. Tell them not to let Dow Chemical
gain legitimacy by associating with this event, and to not let Dow
Chemical tarnish this event. Those of you who can do so, please write,
email, call the musicians and urge them to not attend the event unless
Dow's sponsorship is rejected. This is a small something we can all do
to let Dow Chemical know that we Remember Bhopal, and that we'll not
let Dow escape its liabilities by doling out money.

Tel: +91 44 28575809.
Mobile (For sms): +91 9841962820
Email: events@thehindu.co.in


Abida Parveen
Pandit Channulal Mishra
Sanjeev Abhyankar
O.S. Arun
James Ryan Quartet
Korean band Gong Myoung

You may recall that Dow Chemical, the owner of Union Carbide, is on a
desperate campaign to gain legitimacy by associating with reputed
Indian institutions. In 2007-2008, students and faculty of IITs around
the country rejected Dow's overtures and attempts at sponsoring events
due to Dow's intransigence in resolving the long-festering human
rights and environmental issues in Bhopal. IIT students opted against
allowing Dow Chemical to recruit students on campus. IIT Delhi's
mechanical department returned sponsorship money given by Dow after
students, alumni and faculty caused a major uproar against taking
money from a company known to have a callous disregard for Indian law
and lives.

On December 2-3, 1984, a massive gas leak from Union Carbide's
ill-designed pesticide factory killed more than 8000 Bhopalis within
days. At least 150,000 of the more than 500,000 people exposed to the
gases are still suffering from chronic illnesses. The company has left
behind several thousand tonnes of toxic wastes in and around the
now-closed factory site. These wastes are leaching their toxins into
the groundwater, and more than 25000 indigent people are consuming
this poisoned water. In 1992, Union Carbide was proclaimed an
absconder by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal for failing to
honour summons issued to appear in court to face charges of culpable
homicide, among other offences. The company has shown its disregard
for Indian law. In 2001, Dow Chemical took over Union Carbide. But it
says that it only acquired Carbide's assets and not its liabilities.
Dow claims to be a law-abiding and ethical company. But its behaviour
in India and abroad says otherwise.

1. It has refused to produce its subsidiary Union Carbide in the
Bhopal court to face trial.
2. Despite the fact that it is Union Carbide's wastes that lie in
Bhopal, Dow Chemical has said it will do nothing to clean it up, or to
provide people with clean water. It has said the taxpayers must assume
the responsibility of clean up, and is strongarming the Indian
Government to drop proceedings against it or face a slowdown of
investments from America.
3. Union Carbide is a fugitive from Indian courts, and is barred from
selling its products and services in India. Dow Chemical attempted to
profit from illegally selling Union Carbide's technology to Indian Oil
Company by lying to the company that the technology was Dow's own. In
2005, Indian Oil cancelled the deal with Dow Chemical after being
alerted of this by Bhopal campaigners.
4. In 2007, Dow Chemical was fined $325,000 by the US financial
regulator Securities Exchange Commission after it was caught for
bribing Indian agriculture ministry officials to the tune of $200,000
(Rs. 80 lakhs). The bribe was paid to expedite the registration of a
toxic pesticide called Dursban that was banned for domestic use in the
US in 2000, after evidence surfaced linking exposure to this chemical
with brain damage among children.

For more information on Bhopal, visit: www.bhopal.org, www.bhopal.net,


YouTube Video on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy

*Hush, Baby*

A short film by Himali and Umang highlighting the impact of chemicals from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on new borns in the neighbourhood.


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