Why are the people of Bhopal still suffering?
The gas disaster itself has caused immense suffering – it affected over half a million people.
120,000 people suffer from chronic health problems, and 50,000 Bhopalis are unable to work because of their illnesses or injuries. Some cannot even move. The lucky ones still have family to look after them. Others have lost their families to the effects of the gas.
The gas disaster is not the only reason for this continuing tragedy.
The Union Carbide site is highly contaminated – Greenpeace have called the site a Global Toxic Hotspot. More than 27 years after the disaster, the site has still not been cleaned up, and so continues to poison the people of Bhopal. The soil and water in and around the plant are heavily contaminated with compounds and heavy metals which cause cancers, reproductive disorders, birth defects, growth retardation and other debilitating illnesses. Contamination has been found in water up to 3km away from the site.
The people of Bhopal have fought long and hard for clean water, and now clean water is delivered to the communities around the site. But this only occurs once, every other day. When they run out of water collected on that day, the survivors in these communities are forced to use the contaminated groundwater.
If the site is not cleaned up, and the water is not treated for its contamination, the suffering in Bhopal can only continue, generation after generation.
The real reason why the people of Bhopal are still suffering is because justice has still not been done.
Justice would consist of adequate compensation for the survivors of the gas disaster and for those affected by the contaminated groundwater; a complete clean-up of the Union Carbide site; and a complete decontamination of the groundwater in Bhopal. More than 27 years after the disaster, none of these has been delivered.
Click here to visit the website of the Chingari Trust, the organisation which provides free care to children born with birth defects in Bhopal
Click here to visit the Sambhavna Clinic, which offers free healthcare to survivors of the gas disaster and those affected by the contaminated water
Click here for a more in-depth introduction to the contamination and its effects
Click here for an interactive map that shows the spread of contaminants across the city