Thursday, December 10, 2009


The gas was the beginning of the Bhopal tragedy...
Though it has been a considerable time, but the memories of that fateful night never seem to end. I was in Bhopal during that time and overnight an otherwise non-significant city shot to significance – albeit for all wrong reasons. I’m referring to one of the biggest industrial disasters in recorded history that killed more than 15,000 lives, caused permanent sight and respiratory damages to millions, orphaned children in thousands and effected an entire generation in some way or the other. Though quarter of a century has passed away since the disaster rocked the city, but even today the reminiscent of the same still echoes in each and every corner of the city. In fact, Bhopal gas tragedy never ended, it just started on the fateful night of December 2 and 3 in 1984, when methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins leaked from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, eventually claiming more than 15,000 lives and affecting 5,74,000 people till date. And ever since then, the tragedy of these people continue, perpetually...

Once the tragedy occurred, Bhopal looked like a mortuary overnight. There were just corpses and corpses all around! For those who managed to survive the MIC - inadequate health infrastructure and lack of doctors and medicines killed them. And for those who survived that too, the compensation (lack of it) killed them. In fact post the tragedy, which was discovered to be more of a human error, the government bargained a full and final compensation of $470 million. In fact so much has been written on this compensation amount - that the volume of the poisonous gas that leaked that fateful night would fall short of the volumes that have been written on the same. It is no secret that everyone advocated that $470 million was too little a compensation for the kind of tragedy that it was. Honestly, for any tragedy, and that too of the scale of Bhopal, any amount of compensation would fall short. There is no doubt that Union Carbide brutally short changed the victims of its own gas. So for those who survived to hear about the compensation, died before they actually got it, on account of perennial delay! And for those who managed to survive the delay, could not survive the fact that by the time they actually got the compensation it was reduced to a fifth of what they were entitled to, as the number of affected people raised by five folds. Which meant that the amount which was to be initially distributed amongst a lac people was now to be distributed to five lacs! And for those who survived the hope for this meager compensation, the racketeers killed them. The compensation amount created lot of racketeers who siphoned of the compensation by creating ghost victims. These rackets are still active in Bhopal. In fact an entire ghost economy runs within Bhopal, which is based out of compensation amount. And I’m sure that for those who had the tenacity to endure everything, starting from MIC to the racketeers – this news is going to definitely kill them. To commemorate the 25th year of the tragedy, the relief and rehabilitation minister Babulal Gaur has asked for Rs116 crore from the Centre to develop “a memorial of international standard - akin to the one in Hiroshima, Japan, depicting a detailed account of the world's worst industrial disaster”

On the face of it, sounds to be a nice thought, but then to create a memorial for an ongoing tragedy is kind of tragic in itself! And at a cost which is a seventh of that of the entire compensation, is kind of obscene!

No wonder the Bhopal gas tragedy continues…



  1. I still can't understand, what are the real reasons for which politicians in India are working except doing things, which might attract future votes. (example at moment, Bhopal memorial worth Rs. 116 crore. How can this even really be a requirement with current developing status of Bhopal?)
    Don't get me wrong, I do have sympathy for people who suffered in tragedy. My only ques. is, should one build future, making past a stepping stone or spend for the past on the cost of future?

  2. Someday Indian systems will change, they have to. Its just that I doubt will I able to see any