World's worst industrial disaster killed 7,000 23 years on-still no justice to Survivors

World's worst industrial disaster

The Bhopal Disaster took place in the early hours of the morning of December 3, 1984, in the heart of the city of Bhopal, India, in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It was caused by the release of 27 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from a Union Carbide India, Limited pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide. The International Medical Commission on Bhopal was established in 1993 to respond to the disaster.

A log of what happened follows(The story of what happened follows the log):--

Twenty years after the world's worst industrial disaster killed 7,000 people, maimed thousands for life, and eventually claimed at least 15,000 more lives, the survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy still await justice.
Union Carbide Corporation has washed its hands off the case, and the Government of India is not pushing too hard.
So where does that leave the victims?
All they have got to show for their endless padyatras, dharnas and hunger strikes is money from the American multinational that is not enough to even cover their medical bills. presents a ready reckoner to the Bhopal victims' quest for justice:
December 2-3, 1984: Methyl isocynate gas leaks from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, killing 2,000 people instantly.
December 4, 1984: The Bhopal police files its first information report.
December 7, 1984: Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson, the prime accused, and eight others are arrested. Anderson is released on bail of Rs 25,000.
December 1, 1987: The Central Bureau of Investigation files chargesheets against Anderson and 11 others including Union Carbide (USA), Union Carbide (Eastern) Hong Kong, and Union Carbide India Limited, the Indian subsidiary.
Summons are served on Anderson and Union Carbide.
July 6, 1988: The Bhopal chief judicial magistrate issues a non-bailable arrest warrant against Anderson for repeatedly ignoring summons.
February 14-15, 1989: While the issue of interim compensation is being heard before the Supreme Court, Union Carbide and the Indian government strike a deal, under which the company pays a compensation of $470 million. In return, criminal charges are withdrawn against the company.
February-March 1989: The Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghatan, the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti and other concerned groups file of a number of review and writ petitions in the Supreme Court against the settlement.
October 3, 1991: The Supreme Court revokes criminal immunity granted to Union Carbide and all other accused in response to the review and writ petitions.
The court also orders the government to construct a 500-bed hospital for the victims. Union Carbide and UCIL are asked to pay money to construct the hospital and run it for eight years.
November 11, 1991: Criminal cases against all the accused are revived in the Bhopal court.
January 1, 1992: Proclamation for Anderson's appearance is published in The Washington Post.
February 1, 1992: After ignoring four court summons, Anderson is declared a fugitive. Union Carbide and UCE also are proclaimed absconders.
February 21, 1992: A chief judicial magistrate's proclamation is published in The Washington Post declaring Union Carbide an absconder and ordering it to appear before court on March 27, 1992.
April 30, 1992: The chief judicial magistrate attaches the shares and properties of UCIL held by Union Carbide.
May 22, 1992: The chief judicial magistrate commits the case to trial after separating three of the 12 accused who are proclaimed as absconders -- Anderson, Union Carbide and UCE.
October 1992: The Permanent People's Tribunal on Industrial Hazards and Human Rights holds its session in Bhopal and recommends the setting up of an International Medical Commission on Bhopal.
January 7 to 25, 1994: The IMCB is formed as 14 medical specialists from 11 countries come together to deliberate on the long-term medical care of the victims.
September 1996: The Supreme Court dilutes charges against UCIL's Indian managers, partly on grounds that culpability lies with Union Carbide.
August 1999: Union Carbide announces a merger with Dow Chemical Company.
November 1999: Several individual victims and survivors' organisations file a class action suit against Union Carbide and Anderson in a federal court in New York.
August 2000: Federal Judge John F Keenan dismisses the suit. Lawyers acting for the plaintiffs appeal.
February 2001: Union Carbide merges with Dow Chemicals and Dow claims it is not responsible for a factory it didn't operate.
November 2001: US Second Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates parts of the class action suit.
May 24, 2002: The CBI requests the Bhopal magistrate to dilute the charges against Anderson, from 'culpable homicide' to 'criminal negligence.'
August 28, 2002: The magistrate reaffirms the charges and demands Anderson's extradition.
August 29, 2002: Greenpeace visits Anderson at his home and hands him an arrest warrant.
March 18, 2003: Judge Keenan again throws out the suit.
March 25, 2003: Three survivors' groups hold a press conference in Bhopal and announce that they will appeal the decision. May-June 2003: The government conveys its request for Anderson's extradition to the US.
October 18, 2003: US Congressmen file an amicus brief with the Second Circuit, Court of Appeals.
March 9, 2004: The Reserve Bank of India through an affidavit confirms that it has more than Rs 1,505 crore (Rs 15.05 billion) left in the compensation fund.
March 17, 2004: The Second Court of Appeals rules that the victims are entitled to pursue claims against Union Carbide.
April, 2004: All the pre-trial hearings in New York are transferred from Judge Keenan's court to Judge Pitman's court.
July 13, 2004: The US government rejects Anderson's extradition request. The rejection is on technical grounds like non-framing of charges against him in Bhopal.
July 19, 2004: The Supreme Court orders the government to distribute the balance of compensation remaining from Union Carbide's settlement amount (Rs 1,503 crores) among the survivors whose claims are settled.
October 26, 2004: The Supreme Court approves a plan for the distribution of Rs 1,567 crores -- Rs 1,503 crores with interest accrued -- among 5.72 lakh victims.

Even to date the survivors with serious disabilities are not compesated.

In the early morning hours of December 3, 1984, a holding tank with 43 tonnes of stored MIC overheated and released toxic heavier-than-air MIC gas mixture, which rolled along the ground through the surrounding streets. The transportation system in the city collapsed and many people were trampled trying to escape. According to the Bhopal Medical Appeal, around 500,000 people were exposed to the leaking chemicals. Approximately 20,000, to this date, are believed to have died as a result; on average, roughly one person dies every day from the effects. Over 120,000 continue to suffer from the effects of the disaster, such as breathing difficulties, cancer, serious birth-defects, blindness, gynaecological complications and other related problems. According to the report "The Bhopal Medical Appeal - What Happened in Bhopal?", It is believed that 50,000 people are unable to work because of their debilitating ailments.[verification needed]
Union Carbide, on their Bhopal Information Center website, maintain that “approximately 3,800 died”, while 40 people have permanent disabilities and 2,800 have “partial disabilities”.The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, however, claim that these figures are derived from an affidavit submitted to the Indian Supreme Court on 12th July 1990. This affidavit was apparently based on only roughly 15% of medical evaluations; the Indian Supreme Court would hear, in 1991, that 495,000 people had been classified as injured (22,000 permanently disabled, 3,000 seriously, and another 8,500 temporarily disabled). Even today, according to the campaign, evaluation continues: 15,000 death claims and more than 560,000 injury claims have so far been granted.
The campaign also suggests that “official figures only tell part of the story”, as many injury and death claims have been “denied arbitrarily”. It is also difficult to demarcate which deaths can be attributed to the incident directly. The Indian Council for Medical Research reported that, in 1988 alone, approximately 2,500 extra deaths had occurred in places affected by the disaster. In 1997, according to the Madhya Pradesh Department of Gas Relief and Rehabilitation, an extra 665 deaths occurred in the same areas.
The majority of deaths and serious injuries were related to pulmonary edema, but the gas caused a wide variety of other ailments. Signs and symptoms of methyl isocyanate exposure normally include cough, dyspnea, chest pain, lacrimation, eyelid edema, and unconsciousness. These effects might progress over the next 24 to 72 hours to include acute lung injury, cardiac arrest, and death. Because of the hypothesized reactions that took place within the storage tank and in the surrounding atmosphere, it is thought that apart from MIC, phosgene, and hydrogen cyanide along with other poisonous gases all played a significant role in this disaster.
Information on the exact chemical mixture was never provided by the company, but blood and viscera of some victims showed cherry-red color characteristic in acute cyanide poisoning. A series of studies made five years later showed that many of the survivors were still suffering from one or several of the following ailments: partial or complete blindness, persistent respiratory problems, gastrointestinal disorders, impaired immune systems, post-traumatic stress disorders, and menstrual problems in women. A rise in spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and offspring with genetic defects was also noted. In addition, a BBC investigation conducted in November 2004 confirmed that contamination is present in drinking water, as well as in the abandoned chemical factory site and the former chemical dumping grounds of the factory.
Recognizing the dire need of the gas victims, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal met in 1992 and recommended that an international medical commission provide an in-depth independent assessment of the situation in Bhopal. The International Medical Commission on Bhopal (IMCB) was thus constituted with 14 professionals from 12 countries who were chosen on the basis of their medical expertise and experience in environmental health, toxicology, neurology, immunology, and respiratory medicine. At the request of Carbide gas victim organizations, the IMCB conducted a humanitarian visit to India in January 1994 to contribute in any way possible to the relief of the victims and to suggest ways to in which such catastrophic accidents could be prevented in the future or their effects mitigated.

No comments: