Bhopal, Dec 2 (IANS): Even as a large section of the population of Madhya Pradesh will be busy in watching the Assembly poll results on Sunday, the state capital Bhopal will be observing the 39th anniversary of the most horrific industrial accident in India’s history, the Bhopal gas tragedy that occurred on the night of December 3 in 1984 and killed over 10,000 people within the next few days.
Years after the toxic gas from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal leaked its effects continue to wreak havoc in the lives of hundreds of thousands of survivors.
Nearly four decades have passed since then and a lot has been done by the Centre and the State Government to provide compensation to the victims and their kin, however, thousands of them still suffer from multiple deceases and deformities.
According to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation (BGTRR) department of the Madhya Pradesh Government, which functions under the supervision of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), more than 120,000 people continue to suffer from chronic illnesses and several hundred continue to die untimely deaths due to cancer, lung problems, kidney failure and immunological damage.
There is no accurate data regarding the number of casualties caused by this chemical disaster. Surveys conducted by agencies at different times have given a different figure. Some earlier reports suggested the number of casualties was between 5000-6000, while later reports put the number of deaths at 15,000. However, some other reports claim that the death toll could be over one lakh.
Significantly, the ICMR's survey conducted between 1984-1993 revealed that 9,667 deaths were attributable to the disaster up to 1994. Statistical projections beyond 1994 provide a figure of 23,000 till 2009.
In a letter written in 2010 by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for recommendation of more compensation to the kin of the victims and the survivors, it was mentioned that, "There at least 10,047 people, who should be counted in the casualty figure."
Even newborns were affected by it and many were born with deformities and mental and physical illnesses. Surprisingly, even after decades, the victims of the gas tragedy continue to struggle for their rights and basic amenities.
On this day, the entire city of Bhopal remains in a somber mood and people recall the night when the toxic gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant. Those who survived India's biggest industrial disaster till date recount stories that send shivers down the spine of listeners. More importantly, one of the three iron tanks (Tank - E610), whose malfunctioning had resulted in the leakage of toxic MIC gas and caused the deaths of around 3,000 people within a few hours after the leak, is still lying along the road within the premises.
The reports suggest that the Bhopal UCIL facility had housed three underground -- 68,000 liters liquid MIC storage tanks, named E610, E611 and E612.