No More Bhopals

June 12, 2010

Deepti Khera and Ritu Jhingran

(Published in the Annual Magazine-Redefining Limits SCM batch 2009-2010. Reprodcued here courtesy Deepti Khera)

On December 4, 1984 the city of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh witnessed an extraordinary exodus. Every train, every bus, every vehicle leaving the city was packed with people. For in the early hours of the morning, over 40 tonnes of deadly methyl isocyanate, and other poisonous gases such as hydrogen cyanide, leaked from a pesticide factory, owned and run by the Union Carbide Corporation, USA, now Dow Chemicals.

Naturally, the trains coming into the city were almost empty. But on board one of them was Sathinath Sarangi, better known as Sathyu, who had been taking a break from the rigours of a PhD in engineering, in his village, Paliyapitariya,in Oshangabad district.Sarangi says, “I heard of the Bhopal gas tragedy on the radio. I immediately decided to visit Bhopal. It was simply out of curiosity to know what was happening in the city. I decided to go there for a week. But what I saw that day was much more terrible than what I heard on the radio. People were wandering down the road with swollen eyes, tears streaming from them. Many were hobbling as if in pain. Some had fallen down and found it impossible to get up.”
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A unique buffet in Bhopal

December 3, 2009

Shweta Vachani

3rd December 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, when an immense cloud of poisonous gas from the Union Carbide pesticide factory enveloped the city, overwhelming the masses.

A quarter century later its survivors are still fighting for justice.

Ahead of 3rd December, the survivors of the tragedy and their supporters have launched a week-long protest to condemn the inaction of the state government to remove the toxic waste from the vicinity of the factory.

In response to the preposterous claim made by the Joint Secretary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department that the level of toxicity in the soil inside and around the factory compound is way below danger level, and if 200 gm of it is consumed orally by a person weighing 70 kg, it will not have any effect — implying that any food or plant grown in that soil is “safe” for consumption — a Vish Mukti Bhoj was organised on 28th November in front of the factory by the survivors of the tragedy.
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Remembering Bhopal, and trying to forget

December 3, 2009

Lekhni, well-known blogger and contributor to DesiPundit, wrote this two years ago.

Twenty three years is a long time. For some people, it is the sum total of years they were single. For others, it is length of their entire career. For me, twenty three years is life after Bhopal.

The year, of course, was 1984. In later years, I would read George Orwell. 1984 would then acquire different meanings for me. But those were just fictional meanings. The reality was, 1984 was always just Bhopal.

I still remember the cold winter morning, foggy like any other. We lived in the suburbs of Bhopal, less than ten miles from the old city, where the Union Carbide factory was. Ten miles is not much of a distance. But on that night, it was enough to spare us.

As usual, my mother woke up at dawn to water the plants in the garden. She thought the hedges and the bougainvillea strangely smelt of Sevin (the insecticide that Union Carbide made), but dismissed the thought. Then the radio news announced that there had been a gas leak in Bhopal. No casualties were mentioned. We listened, but it was just another piece of impersonal news. We felt sorry for whoever was affected, wondered where it was, and went about our day. An hour later, my Dad left for work as usual.

Read on.