No closure for victims of Bhopal gas tragedy
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No closure for victims of Bhopal gas tragedy

Given the complicated ownership of the factory site now, it isn’t clear who will manage the toxic waste still present in the abandoned factory. Or pay for the plant site’s remediation. If the MNC failed to do its bit for the victims, the Indian State failed miserably to do what was in its hands, making the effects of the tragedy felt across generations.

editorials Updated: Dec 03, 2018 18:34 IST
Hindustan Times
Bhopal gas disaster survivors hold posters during a protest rally in Bhopal(AFP)

The Bhopal Gas tragedy is not one big tragedy any longer. It has become a medley of successive tragedies, which continues even today, 34 years after 3, 787 people died according to official estimates (the unofficial estimate is around 8,000 immediately and 8, 000 over the years) when methyl isocyanate, a deadly chemical, spewed from Union Carbide India Ltd’s (UCIL’s) pesticide factory. Despite years of protests against the MNC, there has been no closure for the victims because of two reasons (which are now actually big enough to be mega tragedies in their own right). One, the legal tragedy. The Indian government is still struggling to establish the liability of UCIL, its parent company, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), and its buyer, Dow Chemical. The case has become even more complicated following the merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont companies. The merger will result in the disappearance of UCC as a legal entity, adversely affecting the claim of victims for compensation from Dow Chemicals-owned UCC. The Indian government’s inability to tackle the issue firmly is shameful, and will only embolden many other companies that cut corners when it comes to investing in safety protocols. Second, the environmental and health tragedies of the disaster are enormous. Scientific studies, claim victims, show that deaths attributable to exposure to gases (the site has never been properly cleaned) continue in Bhopal.

Given the complicated ownership of the factory site now, it isn’t clear who will manage the toxic waste still present in the abandoned factory. Or pay for the plant site’s remediation. If the MNC failed to do its bit for the victims, the Indian State failed miserably to do what was in its hands, making the effects of the tragedy felt across generations.

First Published: Dec 03, 2018 18:34 IST