Carbide official commenting on the safety systems in the Bhopal pesticide plant. “It’s not a deadly gas, just irritating, a sort of tear gas. ” – Dr Loya, Union Carbide’s official doctor in Bhopal, commenting on Methyl Isocyanate, after the tragedy. 6 december 2010 Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A case study (Part-I) Introduction 2-3rd December 1984, was black night for the people of Bhopal City, who lived around the Union Carbide India Ltd. (UCIL). If they try to forget that black night, they can not do it.
The Bhopal Gas Tragedy, involving a massive release of 40 tonnes heavier-than-air toxic methylisocyanate (MIC) gas, resulted in the death or injury of many thousands of people in the surrounding residential areas. The Union Carbide India Ltd. (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, which used to manufacture the pesticide Servin (carbaryl) gained world-wide recognition as a result of this tragic chemical disaster on the night of 2-3rd December 1984.
Half a million people were exposed to the gas and 20,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure. More than 120,000 people still suffer from ailments caused by the accident and the subsequent pollution at the plant site. These ailments include blindness, extreme difficulty in breathing, and gynecological disorders. Moreover, the Bhopal Disaster is claimed as the worst industrial disaster in history. 01. Cause of Bhopal Gas leak A large volume of water had apparently been introduced into the ethylisocyanate (MIC) tank, causing a chemical reaction forcing the pressure release valve to open and allowing the gas to leak. 02. Who owned the Bhopal plant at the time of the incident and who owns it now? The Bhopal plant was owned and operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), an Indian company that was owned by Union Carbide Corporation. In 1994, Union Carbide sold its entire interest in UCIL to MacLeod Russell (India) Limited, which renamed the company Eveready Industries India, Limited (EIIL).
In 1998, the government of the State of Madhya Pradesh revoked EIIL’s lease on and took possession of the facility and publicly assumed all accountability for the site, including the completion of any further remediation. 03. What did Union Carbide do to assist Bhopal victims after the gas leak? In 1989, Union Carbide and UCIL entered into a $470 million legal settlement with the Indian Government that settled all claims arising from the incident. The settlement was affirmed by the Indian Supreme Court, which described it as “just, equitable and reasonable. The money was promptly paid to the Government of India by Union Carbide and UCIL. 04. What has Madhya Pradesh Government done for Gas Tragedy victims? The Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation was set up by the Madhya Pradesh Government on August 29, 1985, in view of the long term medical, social, economic and environmental relief and rehabilitation needs of the survivors of the disaster. In the last 16 years the department has spent well over Rs. 400 crores.
Of this about Rs. 200 crores have been spent on medical relief, Rs. 60 crores on economic rehabilitation, Rs. 70 crores on social rehabilitation and Rs. 70 crores on environmental rehabilitation. But above all, the efforts of Madhya Pradesh government did not bring any benefit for Gas victims. 800 crores of rupees spent by state government did not give any positive result that might be due to corruption in Gas relief department or irresponsible attitude of state government.