Bhopal, India: 21 years later...
It has been twenty-one years since the night of December 2, 1984, when a Union Carbide factory leaked forty-three tons of methylisocyanate and other hazardous substances into the community of Bhopal, India killing more than 8000 people, during the first week alone. Unfortunately, the ongoing effects of this pollution, concentrated on the poor of the community, have not held the attention of the international community much today. There are still thousands suffering in the aftermath of the tragedy and the areas where the factory still reek of pesticide.
Contaminated ground water in the area around the factory is one of the most serious problems today. The municipal authorities have declared water from over 100 wells unfit for drinking, and numerous studies show that the factory premises and nearby soil are contaminated with hazardous chemicals. Unfortunately, the local slum (called Bustee in north Indian languages) dwellers depend upon the wells. Although the municipal government sometimes sends water tank trucks, its service is irregular and during monsoon season, it is often discontinued entirely due to poor road conditions. Even when the tanks are delivered, many old gas disaster victims aren't able to bear the walk to the supply tanks, much less are they able to bear the burden of carrying the water back to their homes. The municipal authority justifies its failure to address the water poisoning by insisting that the Bustees' dwellers are living in a place where they are not permitted to live, that they are, in fact squatters.
As a result, the dwellers are poorer than they ever were before, and without adequate health care, the community’s children are severely impacted. "The tragedy has been damaging three generations," said Leela Bai, 58, one of the 1984's gas disaster victims, who lives in the Blue Moon colony. Between the multinational corporation which depends on India's cheap labor and the Government of India which has shared in their profits, but fails to care for its people, the tragedy perpetuates itself and the poor continue to pay the price for bureaucratic avarice and gross negligence.