Bhopal Gas Tragedy – World’s Worst Industrial Disaster

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Bhopal Gas Tragedy - World's Worst Industrial Disaster

Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh witnessed one of the most horrific industrial accidents in 1984. It was the night of 3 December 1984 when the residents of Bhopal exposed to the Methyl isocyanate, a highly toxic gas and this Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 took the lives of many. Approx 30 tons of Methyl Isocyanate gas was leaked from Union Carbide (UC) plant which affected more than 6 lakh people.

The destruction of gas leakage was so high that the UN listed this tragedy among the world’s major industrial accidents. It’s a kind of tragedy which still affects the life of people. The photographs and the heartbreaking stories of Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984 can make anyone emotional. This tragedy of Bhopal stunned the country and the world.

In this article we have compiled the details on Bhopal gas leak issue.  Read on to know effects of Bhopal gas tragedy, causes of Bhopal gas tragedy and the aftermath of the gas tragedy.

When And How Bhopal Gas Tragedy Happened

It was the mid night of 3rd December 1984, when people of Bhopal saw the rarest nightmare converting into reality. From plant number C of Union Carbide, the toxic gas Methyl isocyanate started to leak. The morning breeze took the gas to a wider area and people starting to get affected with poisonous gas. Many people could not even wake up as the gas choked them to death while they were asleep. A few people experienced burning sensation in eyes and skin.  The medical staff was neither trained nor prepared for a situation like this.

The Government of India appointed an inquiry commission to find out the causes and the effects of Bhopal gas tragedy. The world wanted to know about the Bhopal gas tragedy causes and who should be held responsible for this?

It was clearly visible that the safety precautions were ignored in the unit of UC. A well-known newspaper interviewed about 10-12 people associated with the UC plant at that time to find out the causes of the accident and many of them either refused to talk or blamed the other department for the misshaping.

Let’s take a look at the chains of events to know how the Bhopal gas tragedy took place and the causes associated.

  • On 2nd December 1984, around 11:30 pm the workers found leakage of methyl isocyanate. On duty supervisor consider it just a minor water leakage and decided to handle it after tea break.
  • But in next one hour or less the situation became out of control.
  • According to the workers on Union Carbide no one ever bothered to know the reasons for leakage in past also and every time they just repaired it to keep the process running.  
  • Workers in the plant were not properly trained to do the assigned tasks therefore they could not follow the safety rules. Moreover the instruments at the plant were not reliable.
  • To conclude this we can say that the workers, supervisors and the management were careless about following the rules and taking the safety precautions.

Struggle For Relief

Till the time of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the Indian government had handled the climate-related challenges only like floods or earthquakes and it was the first time when a deadly gas reached in the houses and the lungs of the people. There was nothing that can save people from dying. Most of them were on road, they were running, vomiting and dying. You can understand the level of destruction with this fact the no place was left in the cremation grounds for dead bodies.  The immediate Bhopal gas tragedy death toll reached up to 4,000 people.

People living in the nearby areas of the plant got up with the effects of poisonous gas. The initial effect of methyl isocyanate is severe eye irritation, coughing, vomiting, and stomach pain. As soon as the people come to know about the gas leakage they started to run on road to go far from the affected place. Hence they inhaled more methyl isocyanate and died. The gas also affected the people based on their height. Children and short people got more affected by this gas in comparison to the taller ones. This gas is denser than air and stays more near to the ground. But the more horrifying part was yet to come. According to the government Bhopal gas tragedy death toll was 2,259 but the exact figure can be higher than this.

Aftermath Of Gas Tragedy

The immediate aftermath of the tragedy came out as the closure of the plant. The hospitals and health care centers were fully crowded with people facing health issues caused by Bhopal gas tragedy. After several weeks of the incident, people were found suffering from anemia and T.B., and it was also found that the water near the plant become unhealthy and poisonous.

The gas didn’t even spared the unborn who were in their mothers’ womb during this gas leakage incident. The Bhopal gas tragedy health issues were clearly visible in the babies who came in the world after a few days of the gas leakage tragedy. They had problems like eye disease, cancer, and mental health-related issues.

The government of Madhya Pradesh continued the research on the aftermath of Gas tragedy till 1994 and after that a few independent studies continued this work. All the research that has been done so far indicates that the post gas leakage effects are more horrifying than the immediate ones.  

Who Is Responsible

Since 1984, the victims of Gas Tragedy are asking the same questions, who is responsible for Bhopal gas leak issue, which has spoiled their two generations. We have already evaluated the causes of Gas tragedy and we came to this conclusion that carelessness was the main reason behind this accident. Now the question arises, who was careless? the workers, the supervisor or the management. Let’s find out.

In December 1984 the pipes and the plants of Union Carbide were not in a good condition. The parent company of Union Carbide inspected the plant in 1984, it pointed out the major issues and also filed a critical report. The management of the plant in Bhopal hired less experienced and not so qualified workers to cut the cost of the company. The company had only one security officer who used to report in the head office Mumbai. Moreover the refrigerating unit in Union Carbide, Bhopal was too small to cool down the methyl isocyanate.

The Bottom Line

All these reasons indicate that the management of UC didn’t give priority to the safety of the worker, plant, and people living in nearby areas. Even after 35 years of Bhopal gas leak issue still the victims are facing the consequences of this gas leak tragedy.

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