The unfinished tragedy the length of a quarter century
Bhopal residents love their city, located in the Central part of India and known around the world Shopalso monstrous man-made disaster, which is exactly a quarter of a century ago killed thousands of people.
Bhopali love the city at a beautiful lake. “Great place for retirement. Compared to Delhi it’s peaceful, the property is inexpensive”, – says in the train Delhi-Bhopal 34-year-old Delhi businessman Ashok.
But there is another Bhopal, about which neither Ashok nor the majority of citizens prefer not to remember. Can’t see the lake, there are dirty streets, and almost every house someone is ill.
On the night of 3 December 1984, the plant of Union Carbide India Ltd. for the production of a pesticide accident. Night workers washed the pipelines on the installation for the production of methylisocyanate – highly toxic chemical that was used in the production of pesticides. Due to a malfunction of the valves water got into the tank, the number of which is known throughout the country – 610, storing this substance. Started a chemical reaction formed a mixture of poisonous gases that escaped into the atmosphere and covered the town deadly white cloud. The cloud has claimed three thousand lives in a matter of hours. The most affected poor neighborhoods located in the vicinity of production.
“I was 13 years old. We were home and the whole family was watching TV. Then start to cut eyes, they blushed and fell ill. On the street people shouted, but no one knew what was happening,” recalled in an interview with RIA Novosti, the events of that night a resident of an adjoining quarter Vijay Kumar.
Only by morning, the gas had dissipated, but another two weeks in the family of Vijay no one could see. Blind people stayed at home and survived only thanks to the help of other people, whose names they do not know.
“All this time we survived on cakes, tea, milk,” said Kumar. Now he’s 38, but he looks ten years older.
Kumar was treated for cough and disorders of eye 15 years. His father after the accident was very ill and died after a year.
Sharma works as a clerk at the head of the district administration, which is located in a white colonial building in the centre of the city. Here the press are given permission to visit the plant-killer.
His family 25 years ago lived in 2,5 kilometers from the factory. From relatives, no one died, but all are sick. Sharma coughed and couldn’t see more than ten years after the tragedy. The idea of the plant still leads him in horror.
“You really go there to go? asks Sharma. – It is not necessary, it is very dangerous. Please do get sick, then your relatives get sick.”
The first attempts to get to the truth in this business a quarter century ago faced an unexpected obstacle: no clear answers in the middle of nowhere.
How many people died? How did this happen? Who is to blame? To any of these questions, even after 25 years there is no definite answer. There are official and unofficial. There are versions of the company and the release of human rights defenders. Many versions.
For many years the government recognized only those dead who died in the day of the tragedy. There about 3 thousand. But people died and the next day, and the week after and the year after that. According to some estimates, the total number of victims is 20 to 25 thousand people, and the number of victims exceeds the official 105 thousand and may reach half a million.
The official investigation of the tragedy was never brought to its logical end.
“Tell me – what is the cause of the accident at the Union Carbide plant? All friends I ask this question, and clearly no one to answer it. This proves that in mass consciousness the answer to this question is no,” says the former Manager of the plant Tota RAM Chohan.
This man alone had investigated the accident at the plant bhoopalam. Now he lays in her lap yellowing photos of the plant, pipelines, their comrades.
Thanks to personal contacts who worked at the plant since 1974 Chohan was able to get internal documents of the U.S. company to make the conclusion about the causes of the tragedy.
“It was an accident that couldn’t happen. All the items that ensure safety on dangerous production from the safe project to the evacuation of the population – had flaws,” he says.
The American company Union Carbide Corporation, which owned a 51% stake in the joint venture, launched version of sabotage, which nobody has confirmed.
“We were proud of the work at this plant. We were told that the plant in Bhopal was built on the project, which was piloted in the United States. As it turned out, this was not true,” said Chohan, pointing to a rambling building of the plant.
“They profess double standards. Some of them, others for the “third world,” says the engineer, approaching along the path to the ill-fated chemical installation.
Here we are surrounded by miles of pipes, overgrown grass paths, abandoned administration building, old tank.
While in the courts there is a dispute about who will be to clear away tons of toxic waste, the plant slowly rusting and abandoned in its territory of chemicals poisoning the groundwater in the area.
For 25 years in connection with the tragedy was not convicted a single person, and the victims of gas tragedy continue to wait for justice.
No unambiguous conclusion about the causes of the accident, the lack of exhaustive medical studies do not allow Bhopal to turn this tragic page in its history.