BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY
BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY
By: Jessica Turakhia Roll No: 7 The Bhopal Gas Tragedy is considered the world’s worst, industrial catastrophe, and 28 years on, the nightmare still continues for its victims and survivors. 28 years on, they are still asking the same question they asked then – Will they ever get justice? The night of December 2-3, 1984, continues to evoke very strong emotions across the country as well as abroad, for its far-reaching impact as well as the delayed justice for its victims and survivors. In the early hours of December the 3rd, methyl isocyanate gas leaked out of the Union Carbide India Limited plant in Bhopal. Union Carbide India Limited was the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation. For a tragedy of its scale, the details seem very fuzzy. The Madhya Pradesh government puts the death toll at 3787, while other sources go up to 12,000 deaths. This is in addition to the thousands impacted in various other ways by inhaling the gas. The long-term side effects of the gas inhalation are still evident after a quarter of a century past the tragedy. Children are still being born, showing the effects of the gas. There was a huge international outcry after the disaster, for relief for the effected and to punish those involved. Union Carbide has been found liable for the disaster, but has denied responsibility even claiming the possibility of sabotage. The much awaited verdict on the court case on the Bhopal gas tragedy finally came on the of June 2010. A mere two years of imprisonment for those involved with no word on Warren Anderson, the then Chairman and CEO of Union Carbide.
The Bhopal Gas Tragedy seems just as mired in controversy as it was when it happened. Here are some highlights the events that followed the tragedy. 3rd December 1984, the gas leak occurs. Upto to 500,000 people said to be affected, the death toll still speculative, is said to be around 12,000. 4th December 1984, a case is registered against Union Carbide. Chairman and CEO of Union Carbide is arrested and then released on bail and allowed to leave the country. This is something that will come back to haunt everybody involved down the years. Who authorized this, how did they come to the conclusion that Warren Anderson should be allowed to go, is mired in controversy even today. 14th December 1984, Warren Anderson testifies in front of the Congress. He stresses UCC commitment to safety and promises to take actions to ensure that a similar incident “cannot happen again.” No testimony of this sort happened in India. February 1985, an interim relief fund is set up by Union Carbide that collects more that $120,000. March 1985 The Govt of India enacts the Bhopal Gas Leak Act, which allows the govt to act as the legal representative of the victims of the disaster. This turned out to be a controversial decision, as individual victims cannot sue Union Carbide for compensation. Lots of activists are demanding that this be repealed, at least now, after 26 years. 1985 Government of India claims $3.3 Billion as compensation for the victims from Union Carbide in an American Court. 1987 Litigation against Union Carbide is transferred to Indian Courts. 1988 The Supreme court asks the Govt of India and Union Carbide to reach a settlement. 1989 5 years after the tragedy occurred, a settlement of $470 million is agreed upon, to be paid by 31st March, 1989. Within 10 days, Union Carbide made the full payment to the Government of India. 1990 Hearings are held to overturn the settlement. The Government tries to put together the list of people who have the affected. 1991 Supreme court hold the settlement as it is as well as comes out with additional pointers for what needs to be done. 1992 Part of the settlement is disbursed and Warren Anderson...
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