Lest We Forget: 35 Years On, Bhopal Victims of Union Carbide Factory Explosion are Still Suffering

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Lest We Forget: 35 Years On, Bhopal Victims of Union Carbide Factory Explosion are Still Suffering

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'Bhopal’s tragedy has not stopped': the urban disaster still claiming lives 35 years on
The Union Carbide factory explosion remains the world’s worst industrial accident – but as its dreadful legacy becomes increasingly apparent, victims are still waiting for justice
Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Bhopal
Sun 8 Dec 2019 09.00 GMT

The residents of JP Nagar have no way to escape their ghosts. This ramshackle neighbourhood, on the outskirts of the Indian city of Bhopal, stands just metres away from the chemical factory which exploded just after midnight on 2 December 1984 and seeped poison into their lives forever. The blackened ruins of the Union Carbide plant still loom untouched behind the factory walls.

It remains the world’s worst industrial disaster, which saw 40 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate gas released into the air, killing over 3,000 instantly and condemning hundreds of thousands to a future of prolonged pain, cancer, stillbirths, miscarriages, lung and heart disease and the drawn out deaths of everyone around them.

“It would be better if there was another gas leak which could kill us all and put us all out of this misery,” said Omwati Yadav, 67, who can see the Union Carbide factory from the roof of her tiny one-room stone house, painted peppermint green with orange doors. Her body shaking with sobs, she cries out: “Thirty five years we have suffered through this, please just let it end. This is not life, this is not death, we are in the terrible place in between.”

Her husband Panna Lal Yadav, 70, who worked as a packer in the Union Carbide factory, points to the black marks and lumps all over his body. “The poison is still inside my body,” he says. “Here you can see it coming out.”

This week marks the 35th anniversary of the disaster yet the injustice suffered by the people of Bhopal remains stark and unrelenting. The official death toll is still disputed but an estimated 574,000 were poisoned that night and upwards of 20,000 people have died since from related conditions. No one from Union Carbide was ever tried for the gross negligence that led to the gas explosion, despite multiple criminal charges being brought against them in India. No cleanup operation of the chemical waste – which was already being dumped into the local community before the explosion – has ever been conducted.
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019 ... 5-years-on
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