Bhopal Gas Tragedy: 31 Years On, Toxins Still Spreading Through Soil, Water

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Protestors demand justice for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.


Bhopal:  For 31 years, the horrors of that night have remained etched on Mohammad Habib's body and mind. In the early hours of December 3, 1984, poisonous methyl iso-cyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide factory just a few hundred meters from his home at Kazi Camp in Bhopal.

An estimated 3000 people died in what is considered the world's worst industrial disaster. Mr Habib - now 52 - lost four members of his family members. Complex multiple surgeries may have helped him regain some strength, but the prolonged fight for justice and rehabilitation has slowly grown weak. "Nothing has happened. The gas victims are now dying so the fight has weakened. Some people and politicians raise the issue once a year and do nothing about it rest of the year," says Mr Habib.  

Activists too agree that as the years have gone by, the passion of the protestors has abated. That does not mean newer generations are not at risk, they caution.

Activist Sathinath Sarangi told NDTV, "Talking of the people, yes there is some fatigue, the numbers that march have come down." He says a new organisation of those affected by the gas leak is coming up.

The Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) had reported in 2012 more 20 human settlements within 3.5 km of the Union Carbide factory were affected by toxic waste being dumped in the area. The soil and ground water there have been contaminated by the toxins, it said.

Mr Sarangi says things are worse now. "We have done a study which shows that the water contamination has spread. The IITR report suggests that water contamination was (within) 3 kms from the factory. Ours shows it has spread in all directions beyond that area."

The Madhya Pradesh Government says it is unaware of the new study. It says Rs 3850 crores have been given to nearly six lakh victims. Dr Narrotam Mishra, minister for Bhopal gas tragedy relief, says, "I am not aware of what study the activists are referring to. Our research is on and we are awaiting results. If they share the study we will go through it and consider (the findings)."


 


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