Monday, December 07, 2009

Dec 3: Hope or tragedy?

Dec3 is personally always special to me. This year also I woke up with a smile on my lips and a song in my soul. It was just unlike any other day it was special. Sun was shining; cool breeze of December was playing in its own tune.

Soon I remembered an old story and the smile started disappearing. It was a day when many didn’t wake from their sleep. It was a day of chaos, disaster and death. It was a day when mothers didn’t know their children had died, children didn’t know their mothers had died and men didn’t know their whole families had died. It was the day when methyl isocyanate gas (MIC) escaped from the Union Carbide’s underground storage plant in Bhopal.

It was a city where I grew up, I played, I went to school. Luckily my parents moved with me to the city when I was a small kid, only after few years of the tragedy. But even now I can remember the grim tales of shock, horror and betrayal which I heard. Many of my family friends and relatives who survived the accident didn’t believe that they will actually see us again.

A picture speaks thousand words. I have posted three different pics of the tragedy. I wouldn’t have written this blog about an incident which happened 25 years ago. But after seeing these images I cried. I had promised that I wouldn’t cry again but I couldn’t control myself today. I cried for the mothers, for the children, for the fathers and for all those countless lives which were lost because of human greed.

3rd December 1984
Shortly after midnight poison gas leaked from factory in Bhopal. There was no warning; none of the plant's safety systems were working. Nearly 40 tonnes of lethal Methyl Isocyanate had escaped from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. The pesticide plant was shifted from America because it was ''too risky'' for Americans.

In the city people were sleeping. They woke in darkness to the sound of screams with the gases burning their eyes, noses and mouths. They began retching and coughing up froth streaked with blood. Whole neighborhoods fled in panic, some were trampled, and others convulsed and fell dead. People lost control of their bowels and bladders as they ran. Within hours thousands of dead bodies lay in the streets. 

There were mass funerals and mass cremations as well as disposal of bodies in the Narmada river. 170,000 people were treated at hospitals and temporary dispensaries. 2,000 buffalo, goats, and other animals were collected and buried. Within a few days, leaves on trees yellowed and fell off. Supplies, including food, became scarce owing to suppliers' safety fears.
Authorities estimated that the gas affected around 520,000 people. Of these, 200,000 were below 15 years of age, and 3,000 were pregnant women. In 1991, 3,928 deaths had been certified. Independent organizations recorded 8,000 dead in the first days. Other estimations vary between 10,000 and 30,000. Another 100,000 to 200,000 people are estimated to have permanent injuries of different degrees. It was a holocaust; thousands were gassed.

There were many warnings but the plan management were interested only in making $$$ for the safety of their workers was least important.

The man responsible for the Bhopal disaster, former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson. An international arrest warrant was issued for Anderson, who fled justice and disappeared. The US government disavowed any knowledge of his whereabouts, and was unable to locate him. Greenpeace and the The Mirror found Anderson living in New York State, under his own name, in 2002 following less than a month-long investigation. The US government has still not taken Anderson into custody. Such modern Hitler should be hanged, should be stoned to death. Are such people above the law? Is no one answerable to the lives lost? Even after so many years the survivors are fighting for justice. The pesticide residue left in the closed plant is till polluting the environment but who cares for these things?

This should have been an eye opener. But still we can find countless Bhopal in the making. If we look around we will find them. Let’s act now or should we wait for another such accident. My Brothers and sisters don’t think that this won’t happen to you or to your dear ones. This can happen anywhere. So act now.. If you don’t get anyone to protest let me know. Even if no one joins you I will come and fight along with you. I will readily give my life to prevent another Bhopal.

I still don’t understand why man is always running after money. We don’t take anything to our grave but only few sweet memories. Maybe many don’t understand this.

Why should we destroy the masterpiece of the almighty – this green plant our home. Lets us keep it safe for the nest generation. Let’s fight for the survival not for our children but for us.

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