(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 06, 2009
Poison Pervades Next Generationís Life As Well
Sadhna Karnik Pradhan
A WHOLE quarter of a century has
passed since the deadly
gas leakage from the
On the night of December 2-3,
1984, about 40 tonnes of
known and unknown killer gases came out from the plant, and these
and other cyanides, which were used during the Second World War. The
claimed a large number of lives, and most of them were the poor working
who were then sleeping in their shanties. This made the leakage
worst industrial disaster in the world. However, the Union Carbide
(UCIL) and the government of
Just like the sufferers of the
atomic attacks on
Despite the immense loss of life
because of this industrial disaster, the GoI sold away the victimsí
agony at a very
cheap price. Moreover, refusing to learn any lessons from this tragedy,
government effected with the
As we know now, the Union
Carbide had been adopting
two different security standards in its
On that fateful night, virtually the entire population of the city was running in the direction of the railway station so that they may somehow get out of the ambit of the leakage. But, to their misfortune, the wind was moving from the UCIL plant towards the railway station, with the result that very soon there were dead bodies littered all around in the area. Some of the railway employees, on duty at that time, tried to save the people, and themselves courted death in the process.
As for the central and the state
immediately started a large-scale cleaning operation --- not to save
surviving people from any possible epidemic but to hide the real number
casualties. Many of the bodies removed were not even recorded. Hundreds
bodies and also a large number of only unconscious people were dumped
garbage trucks and thrown into the
The governmentís callousness and criminal apathy continued even later. The surviving gas affected people did not receive any proper treatment and died as a consequence; the remaining are slowly inching towards their inevitable death. Even after 25 years of this ghastly tragedy, they are facing a difficult situation. In the recent years, the number of deaths because of serious ailments of kidney, heart and lungs as well as because of cancer has sharply increased.
At the same time, Bhopal Memorial and other gas relief hospitals are criminally ignoring the seriously affected but poor people, and are busy treating the select few who can give them something. The government has failed to arrange any adequate number of specialist doctors or diagnostic machines, medicines etc in hospitals. The seriously affected people are feeling compelled to go in for costly private treatment, no matter if their economic condition further deteriorates in the process. This is pushing a large number of people below the poverty line.
In these long 25 years, a whole lot of infants have become young. Such youth from poor families are facing double hardship. On the one hand, they are unable to do any strenuous job to earn a living, as they are themselves seriously affected. On the other, they are obliged to look after their aged and ailing parents and siblings who are no less affected. This has immensely added to the misery of these families and this intensified misery is, in its turn, creating several unexpected familial complications and social problems.
As for the compensation to those seriously affected, the central and state governments are guilty of having perpetrated the biggest medical scam of the century. The government put as many as 99 per cent of the extremely seriously affected people in Claim Medical Categories A and B. Now the Claim Medical Category A means that the person concerned was not affected by the poisonous gases while Claim Medical Category B means that the persons were temporarily affected but have now been cured. To the people in this category, a pittance of just Rs 25,000 was announced as compensation and, moreover, the amount of interim relief (Rs 12,000) was deducted from the money a victim was given. Now the victims have been criminally left to their fate with this meagre money.
In the year 1989, the central and state governments effected an out-of-court settlement with the Union Carbide after presenting false and misleading data in the Supreme Court. The government told the court that only about 3,000 people had died white it distributed the settlement money among the family members of the dead. Similarly, it put the number of seriously affected people at 1,00,000 but distributed the money among 6,00,000 persons. In this way, every gas affected person got only one sixth of what he could otherwise get. As for the gas victims who died after 1992, the government is refusing to accept that they died because of gas. As such, the family members of such victims are not getting any compensation whatsoever. The writ filed by a committee for the Bhopal gas victims for a review of the unjust compensation policy of the government is pending in the High Court for the last 25 years. In 1987, the present writer and her Public Health Centre and Struggle Committee began their protest against the UCILís agreement with the GoI, and demanded an interim relief for the victims through a writ in the district court. The protest fructified and the Bhopal district court ordered the payment of interim relief for lakhs of victims.
The crisis facing the Bhopal gas victims gets intensified by the fact that the UCIL has, over a periods of 35 years, dumped thousands of tonnes of highly poisonous chemicals in the areas adjoining its plant. These may cause serious harms to the peopleís brains, kidneys, hearts and lungs. The poison-polluted water also poses severe threats to the peopleís lives.
While scientific tests are required to find out the extent of poison-pollution in the soil and water over an area of several square kilometres, which threatens the life of many more generations to come, the state government has not so far arranged the supply of potable water to the victims despite the Supreme Courtís injunction.
The government has put in the cold storage the recommendations made by several committees, including the Medical Advisory & Monitoring Committee constituted by the Supreme Court and the Central Coordination Committee constituted by the prime minister.
The anti-people policies of the successive governments at the centre and in the state, the fast rising prices and the long and continuing illness of the gas victims has thrown half of the population of Bhopal into the throes of a severe crisis. Most of the victims are unorganised workers who donít even have BPL cards. Nor are they in a position to do any hard work to earn a living. But the central and state governments have not yet taken any worthwhile steps for these peopleís rehabilitation though they are prepared to spend as much as Rs 10 crore on a cement-concrete memorial inside the factoryís premises. As for the thousands of tonnes of poisonous substances that are still stored inside the factory, which another US multinational called Dow Chemicals purchased in 2001, union environment minister Jairam Ramesh and MPís gas relief minister Babulal Gaur of the BJP are constantly making misleading statements and thus giving a clean chit to the Killer Carbide.
The struggle of the Bhopal gas victims is not just a struggle for compensations; it is against the double standards of US imperialism, against its tendency to devalue the life of a common man in a third world country, and a part of the struggle of the working people of the developing world.
On the 25th anniversary of this tragedy of immense proportions, more than 40 organisations including the CITU, AITUC and the All India Peopleís Science Network organised a number of programmes to raise the peopleís consciousness on the issue and they are now going to decide the further course of action. A series of street corner meetings, bigger meetings, conventions, leaflet distribution and demonstrations is on.
The attempt is to continue the 25 years old struggle of the Bhopal gas victims till they get full justice, to link this struggle with the wider anti-imperialist struggle, and to proclaim ---
NO MORE BHOPAL
ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!