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ChatChat - Claudia Cragg

Nov 19, 2009

Indian state authorities have announced that, 25 years after the Union Carbide Bhopal tragedy that killed thousands, the (till now) sealed pesticide plant is to be opened for tours. In this interview, Dr Suroopa Mukherjee explains that the Bhopal victims' problems are still a very long way from being over.

The Bhopal disaster - or 'Bhopal gas tragedy' - took place at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal in the state of Madya Pradesh. At midnight on 3 December 1984, the plant accidentally released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, exposing more than 500,000 people to MIC and other chemicals. The first official immediate death toll was 2,259. Others estimate 8,000-10,000 died within 72 hours and 25,000 have since died from gas-related diseases. The deaths go on.

Some 25 years after the gas leak, 390 tonnes of toxic chemicals abandoned at the Union Carbide plant continue to pollute the ground water in the region and affects thousands residents of Bhopal who depend on it.

There are currently civil and criminal cases related to the disaster ongoing in the United States District Court, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India against Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical Company, with arrest warrants pending against Warren Anderson who was CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster.

Dr Suroopa Mukherjee PhD is an academic and activist at The Hindu College of Delhi University who has worked closely with victims and has spearheaded the 'We for Bhopal' movement.