Punish the criminals responsible for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy!
Provide full compensation for victims!
Take immediate steps to prevent future disasters!
The night of December 2-3, 1984 proved to be one of endless horror and suffering for lakhs of people of Bhopal. A mixture of methyl isocyanate (MIC) and other poisonous gases emanating from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) resulted, over the years, in the death of over 35,000 people and the chronic illness of over 3 lakhs. One lakh of these are permanently maimed. Findings during autopsies revealed changes not only in the lungs but also in the brains, kidneys and livers of the people, and it is clear that the survivors have also been affected similarly. The effect on future generations is still being witnessed. Reports by independent agencies reveal that the still birth rate increased by up to 300% and neonatal mortality rate by 200 %. The number of cancer patients in the area has also shot up. Toxins have been found in breast milk decades after the incident.
The UCIL plant was established near Bhopal in 1969 to produce the pesticide carbaryl, with 50.9 % owned by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and 49.1 % by various Indian investors, including public sector financial institutions. In its greed to maximize its profits, the UCIL had taken various extremely dangerous steps. The maintenance was very poor and hazardous chemicals were stored in very dangerous ways. Some safety systems were shut down to save money and several others failed due to poor maintenance and inadequate regulations. There were no emergency response plans to cope with incidents of this magnitude. Less stringent safety rules compared to the ones used in its plants by UCC in the US, less stringent quality control as well as poor training methods were resorted to.
UCC admitted in their own investigation report that most of the safety systems were not functioning on the night of December 3, 1984.
It is reported that many accidents had occurred in the plant in the past, including those causing death and serious injuries. Workers and their unions had repeatedly pointed out the dangers, but no heed was paid to them. Insistent workers were fined or even fired. Reports issued months before the incident by scientists within the UCCwarned of the possibility of an accident almost identical to that, which occurred in Bhopal. The reports were ignored.
The Central as well as state governments have numerous sins of omission as well as commission, both before and after the incident they aided and abetted the UCC instead of the sufferers.
Even before the disaster, the factory had been polluting the environment, affecting the soil, air as well as ground water. Today, 25 years after the gas leak, it is believed that toxic chemicals remaining at the Union Carbide plant continue to pollute the ground water in the region and affects thousands of residents of Bhopal.
After the gas leak, many patients would have benefited by the immediate administration of sodium thiosulfate. However, UCC, fearing heavier fines, and compensation, repeatedly denied that MIC had leaked. Even the UCC doctor had no idea how to treat the victims.
The government of Madhya Pradesh collaborated with the UCC in hiding the scale of the disaster. It has confirmed a total of only 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. The initial investigation was conducted entirely by the government agencies – Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The CSIR report was formally released 15 years after the disaster. The authors of the ICMR studies on health effects were forbidden to publish their data until after 1994. UCC and the Government of India fraudulently maintained until 1994, when the International Medical Commission on Bhopal met, that MIC had no long-term health effects.
The Central Government, which was the sole representative of the victims, sold out their interests. The victims continue to fight for proper compensation, rehabilitation, livelihoods, decontamination of soil and water and criminal action against those responsible. The government has abysmally failed them on all these counts. The campaign of the Bhopal survivors enjoys widespread support and sympathy, not only from within India, but also from all over the world.
For the past 25 years the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy and various activists and groups have consistently exposed these blatant lies and steadfastly fought for their rights and continue to fight for justice.
Recently the government has launched a fresh attack on the people of Bhopal. The Union environment and forest minister denied presence of toxic waste inside the plant. This has further angered the people.
Lok Raj Sangathan condemns the managements of UCIL, UCC and now Dow for their role before and after the disaster.
It condemns the central and state governments for consistently betraying the people and for bending over backward to safeguard the interests of these murderous MNCs.
It demands that the guilty should be punished, including those from within the government and other authorities, that the government do everything to ensure that the victims are able to live their life befitting citizens of the 21st century.
It demands that the government do its duty to present and future generations and ensure that the environment is cleaned up and protected.
Lok Raj Sangathan also demands that adequate care should be taken by the government to ensure that such disasters do not occur ever again.
A number of protests, demonstrations, public meetings, film screenings, poetry reading sessions and marches are being planned in the week leading up to the D-day in Bhopal and in 80 places in 20 states across India. 16 other countries have expressed their intention to join in the commemoration – Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Israel, Switzerland, Thailand, China, Philippines, Cambodia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Canada and the US. Besides paying tribute to the victims of the gas tragedy, these events will again assert the long-standing demands of compensation, medical and health facilities and rehabilitation of victims. There is a concerted campaign against Dow Chemicals, which has bought the UCC. Activists are raising questions about accountability and punishment to those guilty for the death of thousands. They are demanding that Dow Chemical represent its subsidiary Union Carbide in the ongoing criminal case in Bhopal and pay for cleaning up of toxic contamination and consequent health damage.