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Bhopal Gas Tragedy – Causes, Consequences, and Aftermath

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  • Last Updated : 02 Aug, 2022
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An unspeakable catastrophe struck India in the shape of the Bhopal gas leak, which exposed over 5,000 people to methyl isocyanate gas and other very dangerous compounds that found their way into and surrounding the nearby small towns. These substances included carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and others.

About 40 tonnes of the hazardous gas methyl isocyanate escaped from an insecticide plant controlled by the Indian division of the American company Union Carbide Corporation on the intervening night of December 1-2. The Union Carbide factory in Bhopal’s Plant Number C was the site of the catastrophe. According to accounts, water reached tank number 610, which contained 42 tonnes of methyl isocyanate, and caused the leak (MIC). The outcome was a chemical reaction that went out of control and released extremely dangerous MIC gas into the environment. The gas cloud contained MIC along with other chemicals that were exceedingly hazardous to both humans and animals, such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

The toxic gas escaping from the Union Carbide factory reached the rest of the city as the cold morning breeze picked up speed, killing people both awake and asleep. Estimates from the Madhya Pradesh government place the death toll from the catastrophe in and around Bhopal at 3,787. The true death toll, according to media accounts, is believed to be between 16,000 and 30,000, with up to 500,000 injuries. The massive poisonous gas leak endangered five lakh people.

Consequences of the Leak 

The people of Bhopal were forever changed by the gas release, in addition to the horrible death toll. More than half of the city’s residents reported coughing, itchy eyes, skin, and breathing difficulties in the immediate aftermath of the leak. Blindness and ulcers affected tens of thousands of people.

Bhopal didn’t have a lot of hospitals in 1984. Half of the city’s population could not be accommodated by the two public hospitals. People were in pain, having trouble breathing, and were lost. The same was true for medical professionals, who were unsure of the causes of the abrupt illnesses that struck every single new patient.
Long-term hardship was also brought on by the leak for the citizens of Bhopal.

Many women who were exposed to the gas gave birth to children who were physically and intellectually handicapped. Children with twisted arms and legs, extra limbs or body parts, musculoskeletal diseases, cognitive damage, and underweight problems were born in the impacted areas.

Government’s reaction to the Bhopal tragedy

Immediately following the disaster, legal processes between India, Union Carbide, and the US were initiated. In order to advocate victims’ interests in court, the government passed the Bhopal Gas Leak Act in March 1985. The US-based company initially offered India a $5 million relief fund, but the Indian government rejected it and demanded a $3.3 billion settlement instead.
In the end, a settlement outside of court was struck in February 1989, and Union Carbide agreed to pay $470 million in losses.

The Indian Supreme Court also established rules for the money, mandating that the deceased’s relatives get between Rs 100,000 and Rs 300,000. Additionally, individuals who were totally or partially incapacitated were to get between Rs 50,000 and Rs 500,000, while those who had a temporary injury were to receive between Rs 25,000 and Rs 100,000.

Seven former Union Carbide workers, all of whom were citizens of India, were found guilty of causing death by carelessness and given two years in prison in June 2010. They were eventually released on bond, though.

The victims wait for justice. Even if the gas leak alone had been a tragedy, it is tragic that survivors have to wait 37 years for just compensation. According to ND Jayaprakash, co-convener of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS), the Supreme Court-assisted settlement, which was worth Rs. 705 crores on February 14–15, 1989, was predicated on the supposition that just 3,000 people died and 1,02,000 were affected.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What precisely occurred in the Bhopal gas misfortune?


The occurrence had occurred at the Plant Number C of the Union Carbide production line in Bhopal. According to reports, the hole happened when water entered tank number 610 containing 42 tons of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC). The outcome was an out-of-control compound response that vented profoundly poisonous MIC gas into the climate.

Question 2: What were the four primary requests of Bhopal gas casualties?


The survivors of the Bhopal gas misfortune requested the accompanying things:

  • Appropriate clinical treatment of the people in question;
  • Sufficient remuneration;
  • Fixing criminal obligation regarding the disaster on the administration of the organization;
  • Moves toward forestalling such disasters later on.

Question 3: Who was liable for the Bhopal disaster?


The Bhopal disaster happened when around 45 tons of the gas methyl isocyanate got away from a plant possessed by an auxiliary of the U.S.- based Union Carbide Corporation. Examinations later settled that inadequate working and security methodology at the understaffed plant had prompted the calamity.

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