Chart displayed on the third floor of the Gandhi Medical College in the old city explains how methyl isocyanate (MIC), when inhaled, affects the human body. It mentions that 3,000 people died because of the gas leak on the night of December 2–3 in 1984. Big bold letters in red scream — Bhopal — The city of death.
“The people who died have found peace but the survivors are bearing the pain for 27 years,” says 45-year-old Mohammad Nawab who wheezes as he speaks. Nawab was in his Abbas Nagar residence, only 5 km from the Union Carbide India Ltd pesticide plant in Chhola Road on the night of the gas leak. Today he needs regular medical treatment for his lungs.
Not everyone has lived to tell his/her tale like Nawab, but some, like the six foetuses on the third floor hallway of Gandhi Medical College, have remained — mute, but horrific reminders of the tragedy. They share shelf space with snakes, lizards and other animals preserved in glass jars.
“Some of these specimens were aborted that night, while others were extracted after the death of the mothers,” said Dr DK Sathpathy. These specimens have been preserved in memory of the tragedy and also for future scientific studies, he explains.
Sathpathy, who retired as the director of the Medico-Legal Institute, was among the doctors who performed autopsy on these foetuses.
“At first, Union Carbide denied that MIC can clot the placental barrier, but after we performed autopsies on the dead foetuses, toxic elements were found,” he said.
Despite thousands of lives being lost in the world's worst industrial disaster, there has been no scientific study to find out the extent to which MIC can affect the human body. “We proposed studies to the government several times, but to no avail,” said Sathpathy.