Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BP Oil Spill and Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984

Bhopal Gas Tragedy - INDIA's HIROSHIMA in 1984
Imagine you are sleeping in the night. As you have even begun to sleep, you smell toxic gases and feel suffocated. You end up either vomiting and later die or fall unconscious and eventually die. Imagine you are not alone and 14,999 more people experience the same and becomes a blatant case of  a genocide committed by someone who let these gases out. This was what happened on the fateful night of Dec 3, 1984. So many people killed and lakhs of people post the tragedy were affected over the next 5 years. Even today there are so many born with deformities remnant of the tragedy. IT WAS CLEARLY INDIA's HIROSHIMA. 

I  was just 3 years old and so were many 3 year old who died. Thousands of children of my age died even before they smiled. Even before their innocence was lost, they were lost forever. Death came so suddenly and so cruelly.

If Jallianwallah Bagh massacre was one of the most tragic events in the early 19th century Indian history, this Bhopal Gas Tragedy is the next most tragic event in the latter part of 19th century. It is recorded as the worst industrial disaster, ever.

Even 25 years later the lakes around contain the toxic gas and people still drink it. Partial blindness, paralysis, impaired immune systems all struck lakhs of people in just a few years.

People who committed this crime and people involved in letting the criminals escape - hell is too less a punishment and any sort of mercy to such criminals is a limitless sin.

Just to recap: On the fateful night of Dec 3rd, 1984 - Water was sent in the pipes to clean up Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. Water had to be kept in isolation from this gas called METHYL ISO CYANIDE. The safety norms were not adequate and water reached tank 610, set off a reaction and deadly gas METHYL ISO CYANATE leaked out of vent gas scrubber tower and reached outside killing people instantly (around 15,274 on the spot and more than 5.73 lakh victims maimed). The gas when reached outside was too late for people to respond and evacuate.

Union Carbide was a plant (factory) set up in Bhopal and was an American company headed by Warren Anderson. His Indian arm was headed by 7 people (all of whom were sentenced to only 2 years of jail and Rs.25,000 fine and eventually got bail within hours of the judgment). There is no case which can be worse than this, to say - JUDICIARY IS A BLOT on the Indian democracy. Such decisions not only reduce faith, but eliminate any hope of justice people have in the country's law.

Within 5 days of the leak, the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh - Arjun Singh's personal aircraft was sent to Warren Anderson and he flew and so far is absconding. He has never returned for a trial.  This is the highest level of inhuman tendency and no demon or beast I can recollect can be worse than this. Carnivorous animals kill out of their own natural Karma, while the cruelty of such people (both Warren Anderson and the people who helped him abscond) is born unnaturally out of their own minds just to indicate they are a blot of humanity and human values.

In 1996, the criminal charges(Section 304) that could give sentence of 10 years reduced to a case of negligence (Section 304A) whose punishment could just be 2 years. This was done under pressure from the Ministry of External Affairs led by the Congress Govt in 1996. This act is the highest level of utter negligence by any democratically elected govt towards its own people.

The company was running its operations post 1984 and later bought by Dow Chemicals USA, and Dow now says it is no longer connected with it.

My faith in God has so far not shaken, but events like these shake my faith in God. More so, I ask God  - "Why do you wait to take innocent peoples lives so cruelly and let off the cruel people so mercifully. At your doorsteps justice is always delivered, but justice after death makes no sense as the living must see how powerful you are."

Today, BP Oil spill is creating an outrage in the US. Every newspaper and everyone including the President has called for strict action and have sued the company. The disaster is enormous. While the US can put pressure on a company causing eco disaster, shouldn't it also consider handing over Anderson at least once for a trial? In a press statement, US says it is satisfied with the judgment on the Bhopal gas tragedy - how can a democratic nation be so merciless at commenting on a judgment involving so many thousands and lakhs? While the settlement amount for Gas tragedy is 473$ million (which is peanuts), the liability amount that US has raised on BP is $10 billion.

While Obama in a press speech said he wants to know whose a** to kick, the Indian govt cannot take such a step because it involves extradition from the world's super power which is near impossible. When India can't get Dawood, it can never get Anderson. It is the weakest response to ever expect from any country. The dubious standards of Indian govt in 1984 or 1989 - the turning points in the case is the worst manifestation of governance of complacency and reminds us of NAZI period of Germany where toxic gases were used to kill the living people.

India neither has the courage nor the adequate laws to handle such cases and nothing more can be done. I expect PM Singh to consider the matter with utmost concern.

Chief Judicial Magistrate who gave the judgment made a correct statement (although the judgment is a mockery of judiciary) -  Reference Link

"Bhopal tragedy was caused due to worst of American, Indian cultures" (Court's judgment)

For more of the tragedy, read:


Abhishek said...

Very nice article! I just want to share some other person's comment on another website which I really liked. It goes as:
"Warren Anderson fled away in 1984 not in fear of judgement but in fear of having to wait for 25 years to receive the judgement".
I think this comment summarizes our judicial system which takes 25 years to come with a verdict. Equally hopeless is our politicians who will commit the same type of crime again and again and get away with it. And above all, WE, the citizens of India, are the most hopeless, since we will re-elect them back to create such opportunities for them again. Life will be increasingly more valueless with the ever-growing 100 crores population!

devi said...

great article. i am amazed the way you have collected the information. can not even imagine how people are suffering even after 25 years.
hope less politicians and help less people.............

Ramachandra K said...

This is a crime against humanity and environment. How did the judiciary give such a negligible punishment. The court could have referred the case to the ultimate authority (The President of India) to amend the Act itself as the gravity of the crime is larger than the punishment itself. It is a shame that our politicians have left Mr Anderson and USA with a meagre punishment and letting our people in drain. It is crime on those who have left their bodies in this tragic incident and crime on the people who have survived and crime on the people for the next generations to come.


Anonymous said...

God does not kill He is Love...He has never hurt humans...He invents.
Satan kills he is Hate...he forever will hurt humans... he destroys...
God will bring Justice...He will not forget 1 single tear...Judgement Day will come, all will answer. Thank You Jesus for life after death!
People take so much i am saddened and amazed at companies willing to do what they want without a thot to "what if..."
jimbo from canada

Neil Jakson said...

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