Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Space Travel News .

30 years on, fight for justice still rages in Bhopal
by Staff Writers
Bhopal, India (AFP) Nov 30, 2014

Nearly deaf and riddled with cancer and ulcers, 90-year-old Rampyari Bai insists she will never give up fighting for justice for victims of the world's worst industrial disaster.

"I will fight until my very last breath, even if I have to crawl on the ground," says Bai at her home in Bhopal, the site of a catastrophic leak at a chemical plant on December 2, 1984.

Bai was living just outside the Union Carbide factory when around 30,000 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) began spewing from a tank shortly before midnight.

Sirens only sounded for a few minutes and wind blew the highly toxic gas across the city. More than 3,500 were killed in the immediate aftermath but as many as 25,000 people are estimated to have died in the long run.

Bai suffered injuries, including mouth ulcers, which she has endured for the last 30 years, while her son Prabhu Lal has had several limbs amputated.

There is also the never-ending pain of seeing her daughter-in-law Jamuna die in hospital on the night of the disaster.

"She was seven months pregnant," Bai told AFP.

Grief spurred Bai to campaign for compensation and ensure those responsible were punished.

Over the years she and fellow activists have been beaten by police at protests and threatened with prison.

Their determination is undimmed, but the recent death of Union Carbide's former boss and the failure to secure more compensation means their prospects look grim.

The plant sits abandoned behind walls, crawling with vines, weeds and snakes. E-610, the now rusting tank from which the poison sprang, is still identifiable by its fading serial number.

Amid disputes over whether the soil below will ever be safe, the control room remains labelled with signs including a sticker reading "SAFETY IS EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS".

The site is off limits, but Shahid Noor -- who was orphaned by the tragedy -- received permission last week to look around.

Speaking in an old laboratory, the 39-year-old recalled how the alarm was raised by the panicked sounds from the family's buffaloes.

"When I went outside, it was like someone had boiled 100 chilies together and thrown them in my eyes," he said.

His relatives tried to flee, but not all of them made it.

"My mother was taken to hospital and I never saw her again as she died there the next day.

"I was with my father when he passed away. He kept telling me his eyes were burning, and his chest exploding."

- Bodies on shelves -

N. R. Bhandari was medical superintendent at Bhopal's Hamdia hospital at the time.

"There were so many dead bodies coming in together. They were brought in the trucks and autorickshaws and taxis," recalled Bhandari, now 82.

"They were being put up on the shelf like you put files."

Those still alive were gasping or vomiting, their eyes burning.

"We could not do anything but give them some oxygen and some symptomatic treatment... we did the best we could."

While the official toll in the first three days was 3,500, Bhandari says the poison was the main cause of death of thousands for years afterwards.

In a 1994 report, the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research put the toll at 25,000.

Both Bai and Noor received compensation of 25,000 rupees (around $400 today) under a 1989 settlement between the government and Union Carbide, now a wholly owned subsidiary of US chemical giant Dow Chemicals.

Union Carbide paid $470 million and Dow insists all liabilities were settled at that time.

But campaigners say the settlement only provided compensation for some 5,000 victims and relatives.

The government filed a legal petition in 2012 seeking more compensation from Dow, but the case has made little headway in India's sluggish legal system.

- Hunger strike -

Safreen Khan was among a group who recently staged a hunger strike in Delhi to pressure the government. Khan said they thought they had persuaded it to increase compensation after meeting the chemicals minister.

But a ministry official told AFP that "everything about the issue is already in the courts. There are commissions and whatever facts there are have to be verified."

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary general, said the government must put much more pressure on Washington to get Dow to pay, drawing a comparison with the $20 billion compensation paid by BP after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"We do feel that the government of India needs to take this much more seriously," he told AFP.

"It somehow feels that there is a different value being attached to damages and the lives being lost in the US, compared to a developing country like India and that is totally unacceptable."

The apparent stalling has added to a sense of justice denied, weeks after news that Warren Anderson, Union Carbide's boss in 1984, had died in a Florida nursing home.

Anderson was briefly arrested on a visit to Bhopal after the disaster, but was bailed and flew back to the US in a move activists say was part of a murky deal.

"He (Anderson) killed so many people so I am not sad that he died. I just wish he had died in prison," said Bai.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

India court slams Delhi's worsening air pollution
New Delhi (AFP) Nov 27, 2014
India's environment court has slammed the government over the capital's horrendous air pollution, which it said was "getting worse" every day, and ordered a string of measures to bring it down. The National Green Tribunal directed all vehicles older than 15 years be taken off New Delhi roads, pollution checks undertaken for all state-run buses and air purifiers installed at the city's busy m ... read more

Soyuz Installed at Baikonur, Expected to Launch Wednesday

Elon Musk unveils 'drone ship' and 'x-wing' fins for rockets via Twitter

China launches Yaogan-24 remote sensing satellite

Time-lapse video shows Orion's move to Cape Canaveral launch pad

Within Rover's Reach at Mars Target Area 'Alexander Hills'

Mars Exploration Program Director Named

Second Time Through, Mars Rover Examines Chosen Rocks

Mars was warm enough for flowing water, but only briefly

Young Volcanoes on the Moon

U.K. group to crowd-source funding for moon mission

After Mars, India space chief aims for the moon

China examines the three stages of lunar test run

Pluto's Exotic Chemistry

Clues Revealed About Hidden Interior of Uranus

New Horizons Set to Wake Up for Pluto Encounter

Hubble Telescope Finds Potential Kuiper Belt Targets for New Horizons Pluto Mission

Hot, Super-Earths Help Track Water-Rich Atmospheres

How to estimate the magnetic field of an exoplanet?

Follow the Dust to Find Planets

NASA's TESS mission cleared for next development phase

Scientists develop process to turn human waste into rocket fuel

European space plane set for February launch: firm

NASA Selects Student Teams for High-Powered Rocket Challenge

3-D Printed Engine Parts Withstand Hot Fire Tests

China expects to introduce space law around 2020

China launches new remote sensing satellite

China publishes Earth, Moon photos taken by lunar orbiter

China plans to launch about 120 applied satellites

Philae probing comet with hours left on battery

Comet probe in race against time to crown stellar feat

Asteroid Mining Could Make For Boom Times

Rosetta Comet Landing in 'Thud' and 3D

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.