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Over Three Decades and Counting, Union Carbide Calamity Continues to Haunt Survivors

More than three decades after the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, still fighting for justified compensation, adequate healthcare, pension, employment issues and more, the survivors took out rallies, protested and paid tribute to those who left them on the fateful night.

Vivek Trivedi | News18.com

Updated:December 3, 2017, 3:24 PM IST
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Over Three Decades and Counting, Union Carbide Calamity Continues to Haunt Survivors
Bhopal gas tragedy survivors on Sunday enacted the December 1984 scenario. (Photo: News 18)
Bhopal: On the completion of 33 torturous years of 1984 Union Carbide gas leak, the survivors on Sunday enacted December 1984 scenario, at Rajbhawan, against the marathon ‘Run Bhopal Run’ organised on the day which brings back memories of city’s worst night which officially killed 3,787 and injured over 5.50 lakh in the city.

As the Old City mourns death and disaster, the fanfare of marathon is like mocking at our pain and sorrow, the survivors claimed who had reached Rajbhawan as early as 6.30 am. Raising slogans against CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and asking him to stop ‘celebrating’ on Bhopal tragedy anniversary, the survivors protested as the marathon, organised by a volunteer organisation and aided by state government, was underway.

More than three decades after the incident, still fighting for justified compensation, adequate healthcare, pension, employment issues and more, the survivors took out rallies, protested and paid tribute to those who left them on the fateful night. They complained that still nothing much was done for their compensation, treatment and rehabilitation.

Meanwhile Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan paying tribute to the victims called for efforts to make sure 'Bhopal' is not repeated anywhere. He promised survivors that widow pension won't be scrapped. "It was originally meant for five years but it would continue," he said. It is a tragedy one can’t forget, he added.

On the intervening night of Dec 2-3, 1984 when the city fell asleep unaware what disastrous was in store for them, highly toxic Mythal Isocyanate leaked out from Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant based in JP Nagar area and made way into nearby slums in no time.

Over 30 tonnes of poisonous gas had leaked from the plant.

It all started at 12.05 am when water started to get mixed with the lethal liquefied gas stored in tank number 610 in plant C and resultant chemical reaction led to blowing away of the safety valve. Soon after the gas leaked, a commotion resulted, especially after the word spread among locals which ran for cover inhaling more gas in the process and collapsing one after another.

Historical accounts claim that owing to technical issues, the plant was closed for some time but as the site supervisors came to know about the trouble in tank number 610 on the fateful night, they made hectic efforts to bring things under check. Panicked technicians cut off the water supply hoping it could stop the chemical reactions which was not the case to be. Soon the pressure exceeded and the safety valve took off giving way to lethal gas.

As the gas made into homes, people woke up in hurry and felt burning sensation in eyes, incessant coughing and foul smell. Not having any clue, they picked up their little ones and ran in every possible direction. Several thousand collapsed before they could run to safety while thousand managed to save themselves from the gas leak but could not save them from the damage the gas did to them.

Survivors recount that the city tuned into graveyard as both humans and cattle lay dead everywhere, in the periphery of the plant and those who survived the disaster did not have the strength to move. Every second family got detached from the near and dear ones only to be reunited in days after things settled down in the city.

As the sunlight descended on the hapless city the next morning, the world came to know about the magnitude of the disaster, perhaps 'the worst' witnessed by mankind till date.

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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