ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Chronic Denial of Justice

It will be a miracle if any of the rich-and-powerful Bhopal accused ever go to jail.

Anxiously waiting outside the court of the chief judicial magistrate Mohan M Tiwari in Bhopal on 7 June, 36-year old Raghu Jaidev and many other victims of the Bhopal catastrophe were crestfallen, some of them, outraged, upon hearing the outcome of the trial that had dragged on for almost two decades. “Rich people always get away”, said Jaidev, “we poor keep fighting till we die”. That remark neatly sums up what we too have to say.

The release of 45 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas on the night of 2/3 December 1984 from the Bhopal plant of Union Carbide Corporation’s (UCC) Indian subsidiary Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) killed some 8,000 people in the vicinity in the next 72 hours and left innumerable others blinded, suffering from major pulmonary disorders, with abnormal pregnancy outcomes, and/or a whole host of other acute and chronic morbidity conditions. Many more were to die in the years to come and the numbers suffering toxic exposure and damage are now estimated at half a million. Indeed, the groundwater of the factory and its immediate vicinity is contaminated from the leakage of toxins from the abandoned UCIL factory, in turn, polluting the water table. But Dow Chemical Company, which acquired the shares of UCC in 2001, denies any responsibility for UCC’s Bhopal liabilities.

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