On the night of 2nd December 1984, many lives changed, destinies were re-written or rather written off. People sleeping peacefully were woken up by a sudden cough which refused to stop. Some felt burning eyes due to which they weren’t able to see anything. They started to rush out of their homes into the white cloud of smoke that had engulfed them. “Run for your lives”were all the words that could be heard. Other sounds were of coughing people, wailing babies, people who were vomiting and some who were crying until they fell down unconsciously. They were running to move out of the white cloud that was not refusing to follow them. Many pregnant women had instant miscarriages. On a cold night, everything gave a burning sensation. Everyone was trying to reach the nearest hospital. Trees were shedding leaves as if it were a wildfire. But, it was worse than that.
I am talking about the world’s worst industrial disaster- the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The disaster that took the lives of thousands of people, permanently disabling lakhs and pervaded the birth defects in the generations to come.
The leak of highly toxic Methyl Isocyanate from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal. The reason of the leak is still not clear. However, the reports suggest that it was due to lack of maintenance and a floppy management. Several cases were filed against Union Carbide Corporation or UCC and Warren Anderson, who was the then CEO. The cases kept on shuffling between the Indian courts and the US courts for 26 long years- from 1986 to 2012. Anderson was refused to be extradited by the US government as they stated that he had no role as the plant was owned and operated by its employees. However, in 2010, eight of the plant’s employees were charged with negligence and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment, with a fine of $2000 each. For all the deaths and the aftermath of the disaster, all they could get was just a moderate fine and 2 years in jail, which they never got as 7 of them were soon out of the prison on bail, shortly after the verdict was out. The 8th convicted employee already had died before the judgement was passed.
From 1984 to 2010, justice after 26 years! Is that justified?
And such a meagre punishment to those who played with the lives of many! Is that justified?
Bhopal Gas Tragedy is just one example of the justice that was delayed for more than 2 decades. The punishment given to the convicts was the maximum punishment given by the Indian Law. Change is the law of nature and so the changes should be made to the rules and laws that were made decades ago. It’s high time the cases are heard quickly so that the justice isn’t delayed. But, above all that, we, as humans need to value our ethics and moral principles.
An ethical life is built of integrity, honesty, kindness, decency and belief in truth, justice, honour, love, respect, compassion, and working together to make life better.