Bhopal Gas Tragedy – What is the value of life in India?

Life is cheap in India. Ask the poor that live life in abject poverty, who often resort to prostitution, selling of their children and suicide. The Times of India, Indian Express, NTDV, Aaj Tak and a host of other publications and TV channels continue to spew out reports that highlight the flip side of Incredible India.

SC dismisses CBI petition, rejects harsher punishment for Bhopal gas tragedy accused
Dhananjay Mahapatra, May 11, 2011, 11.07am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court turned down on Wednesday a government demand to re-open the case into the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy and hand harsher sentences to seven men convicted of negligence.

The court dismissed CBI’s curative petition seeking restoration of stringent charges against Bhopal tragedy accused saying it was filed 14 years after the 1996 judgment, which was only a prima facie view of evidence that had come on record till that time.

A five-judge constitutional bench, headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, however, left a window of opportunity open saying the pending proceedings before the sessions court against the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s judgement awarding two years sentence to the accused, including Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra will not be influenced by any order passed by it, PTI reported.

* Initial deaths (3-6 December): more than 3,000 – official toll
* Unofficial initial toll: 7,000-8,000
* Total deaths to date: over 15,000
* Number affected: Nearly 600,000
* Compensation: Union Carbide pays $470m in 1989
Source: Indian Supreme Court, Madhya Pradesh Government, Indian Council of Medical Research

The people who lived around the Union Carbide Plant – in return
for nearly 18 years of suffering with dreadful illnesses have received
“compensation” of around $500.

Alaskan sea-otters during the Exxon-Valdez disaster were fed
airlifted lobster at a cost of $500 per otter per day.

The Bhopal gas tragedy was the greatest  industrial disaster in the world that took place at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. At midnight on 3 December 1984, the plant accidentally released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, exposing more than 500,000 people to MIC and other chemicals. The first official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release  Others estimate 8,000-10,000 died within 72 hours and 25,000 have since died from gas-related diseases.

Some 26 years after the gas leak, 390 tonnes of toxic chemicals abandoned at the Union Carbide plant continue to pollute the ground water in the region and affects thousands residents of Bhopal who depend on it .There are currently civil and criminal cases related to the disaster ongoing in the United States District Court, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India against Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical Company, with arrest warrants pending against Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster.

Children of the gas victims are born with congenital deformities. Many gas victims are suffering till date and most of the sufferers are poor people who were staying near by the tragedy site. These people are denied medical help as doctors refuse that they are gas affected.

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