29th Anniversary of Bhopal Gas Disaster In India

December 2/3 2013 marks the 29th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster –the Bhopal Gas Disaster. The anniversary will mark 29 years since the people of Bhopal, India were exposed to 40 tons of the highly toxic, methyl isocyanate (MIC) due to the negligence of the American-owned Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), which is now owned by the Dow Chemical Company.

The Bhopal gas disaster has resulted in 25,000 deaths to date, and currently affects over 500,000 people.  Chronic health problems stemming from initial exposure to MIC (including sickness in the respiratory, ocular, neurological, neuromuscular, gynecological and reproductive systems) continue to plague survivors 29 years later.  Moreover, unsafe dumping practises by UCC have led to soil/groundwater contamination in 22 communities.  Perhaps most tragic is the mutagenic effect of MIC exposure, leading to higher rates of developmental disabilities and congenital malformations amongst the children of survivors.

Despite this, survivors have sustained a 29 year struggle for justice. It is because of this sustained struggle that survivors have been able to achieve a number of important victories, including:

  • Clean water supply to more than 50,000 people and also free tap connections
  • Pro rata compensation which was distributed to all 5,74,572 survivors when we moved the Supreme Court in 2003 and got the judgement in 2004
  • A pension to 5000 gas affected widows
  • Setting up of monitoring and advisory committee on health and research of gas victims
  • Stopping Dow from making any substantial investment in India. Their projects in Pune and Gujarat have been cancelled
  • Dow Agro Science has been blacklisted for 5 years in India for bribing Indian officials
  • Stopped an out of court settlement between Dow Chemical and Government of India by exposing lobbying information obtained through RTI
  • Convincing the Government of India on the Polluter Pays Principle which has forced it to pursue Dow and Union Carbide liability in both gas claims and for environmental damages

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, North America (ICJB-NA) invites actions of solidarity to mark the 29th anniversary of this ongoing disaster.  These actions could take place in the form of hosting a Bhopal-related film screening, a candlelit vigil outside your local Dow office/Indian embassy, simply posting a message of solidarity or donating to the campaign. More action and event ideas can be found here.

Please send us pictures, recaps or notes on your actions so we can convey your message of solidarity to Bhopali survivors/activists, and show them that the world has not forgot their ongoing struggle!

For more information, please contact: reena.shadaan@icjb.org