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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Bhopal Factory Case Re-Opened After 25 Years


By Theodora Filis

Half a million residents of Bhopal, India were poisoned when the Union-Carbide pesticide manufacturing plant released extremely volatile methyl isocyanine gas and other toxins into the air on December 3, 1984 killing 35,000 people and poisoning thousands more. 

Twenty-five years after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the Madhya Pradesh government, and the US Supreme Court have re-opened the case. Activists are considering this a small victory after years of petitioning for the rights of the people affected by the accident.

The Indian supreme court hopes to answer questions that have haunted the people of Bhopal all these years:

Should charges of culpable homicide be back on the table?

Who was responsible for the arrest and immediate release of Warren Anderson - Chairman & CEO of Union Carbide in 1984?

Why does the Bhopal factory continue to leak poisonous chemicals into the air, soil and water after 25 years?

Who was responsible for the clean-up, and why hasn’t anyone been held accountable?

Events of that day have been etched in the hearts and minds of activists and residents of Bhopal for over 25 years.

“3rd of December 1984 dawned like any other day at Bhusaval Junction the heart of Central Railway operations.  It was a pleasant bracing winter morning and it was business as usual. But, by 6:00am it was evident a disaster had struck Bhopal.  No trains were leaving Bhopal and those which entered just seemed to have disappeared into a ‘black hole’. Nobody knew exactly what had happened except that some gas had engulfed Bhopal leaving in its wake thousands of humans choking, coughing and blinded.“ V. Anand, Bhusaval Junction Manager

“The sight at Itarsi” said Anand,  “was something straight out of Dante’s Inferno.  Dozens of men, women and children were writhing in agony and we watched them in horrified helplessness. Death was a welcome relief to the victims,  their eyeballs swollen red and bursting, every breath bringing agony to their burning lungs.  The screams of the tortured bodies were in different languages.  Train after train went past Itarsi discharging  the bodies of the victims of the monstrous gas .”

The final question yet to be answered is how individuals primarily responsible for this disaster have escaped responsibility.