Bhopal: Not even born 30 years ago when the gas tragedy struck the city, yet the third generation of Bhopal is now bearing the brunt of toxic leak of Methyl Isocyanate from the carbide factory on the December 2, 1984.
The doctor who conducted the autopsies said that he found evidence that the toxicity had crossed the placental barrier to the foetuses on that fateful night. It was also said that genetic aberrations in the following generations could not be ruled out.
Siddesh was born 19 years after the tragedy and yet he is a victim. He is physically and mentally challenged since birth. His mother Meeta was herself a child in 1984 when the gas leaked into her home in Narial Kheda. Her parents got a compensation of just Rs 25,000 each. Abandoned by her husband, Meeta has struggled to bring up Siddesh alone.
"I come here so that my son's condition improves. He can now eat, run and play on his own. Earlier, he only used to lie flat," Meeta recalls.
Other victims of the tragedy, 13-year-old Taufeeq and 8-year-old Junaid can barely use their legs. Their mother Shehnaz was also exposed to the toxic gas 30 years ago. Shehnaz's husband suffers from Tuberculosis. But all she got is a meaningless one time compensation of Rs 25,000.
"I was 10-12 years old when the gas entered. Both my sons have the same problem. They cannot walk, they keep falling down. some say there is no cure," Shehnaz laments. The 13-year-old Taufeeq says that he wants to do research when he grows up.
Several people have been fighting against the tragedy with its traces still visible. Rashida Bi and Champa Devi are both survivors of the gas tragedy and now long-time activists.
"The numbers of affected kids are much higher in the wards where the gas leaked, but the government is still in denial," activist, Chingari Trust Rashida Bi said.
Dr Satpathy conducted over 800 autopsies within days after the tragedy. He had also examined the foetuses of pregnant women who died that night and had concluded that the toxins would be passed on for generations.
"Union Carbide had said in its manual that the methyl isocyanate (MIC) would not cross the plancental blood barrier level. But the same toxin in the pregnant ladies who died that night was also found in their foetuses. MIC had clearly crossed the placental barrier. It would have adverse effect even in the future generations," Dr Satpathy claimed.
A study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had conducted a study between 1985-94 and found that psychiatric disorders in children exposed to the toxic gas was 12.66 per cent as compared to just 2.4 per cent among children not exposed to the gas.