The ramshackle neighbourhood of JP Nagar in Bhopal never knew that for most of them it was their last sleep on December 2, 1984. By the time the world woke up, thousands were silenced for ever. The leakage of Methyl isocyanate from the Union Carbide Factory seeped poison into the lives of the sleeping victims. With no chance to stand, many innocents died on the spot while countless many were left intoxicated from inhalation of MIC.
Referred to as the ‘Bhopal Gas tragedy’, this industrial disaster remains as the top notch in its category for being the deadliest. More than 3000 people were killed instantly after 40 tons of carcinogenic methyl isocyanate gas was released into air. The catastrophe didn’t end here but opened up the gate to prolonged pain, stillbirths among other health abnormalities for those who narrowly escaped death.
Today marks the 36th year of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, yet Bhopal still shudders at the very thought of the deadly night. While the official death toll remains disputed, it has been estimated that more than 5 lakh people were poisoned that night and ever since 20,000 people have succumbed to related health complications. Despite multiple charges addressed in India against the authorities of the Union Carbide, not a single person was ever tried. On top of that, even the chemical waste which were being dumped in the nearby localities, still remain to be cleaned.
Three decades have passed since the tragedy but the mortality rate stands at a shocking 28% higher than the average. In addition to this, the gas exposed victims are twice likely to succumb to cancer, tuberculosis and thrice from kidney failure. More than 40% of the gas victims have been diagnosed with devastating health issues like under active thyroid.
They say justice delayed is justice denied. The Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims are the worst victims of the phrase. 36 years have passed since the tragic incident and yet all is in the frame is a 1989 compensation deal that shamelessly gave an amount of just Rs. 25,000 to the victims, many are yet to receive the compensation. None of the nine Indian officials who underwent conviction in the year 2010 due to their alleged role in the occurrence of the incident had to serve any sentence. Worst of all, not a single authority of the Union Carbide never appeared before the court.
While each passing anniversary brings a miniature iota of attention to Bhopal, the atrocity of the tragedy remains the way it was on the dreadful night. Even today, a stroll on the streets of Bhopal canvases the horrifying sights the victims witnessed. The carelessness of a few silenced many. While incidents like these happen every other day, many go unreported, let alone discussions on them. The cries and howls of the hurt go unnoticed.
Time and again there have been several instances when ample warnings were ignored by the government. Numerous catastrophic disasters that have stained India’s history teach us a lot about how precious human life is. We need to learn today to reduce human misery tomorrow.