The toxic gas leak from a chemical plant of a company in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam city recalled the world’s worst industrial tragedy of Bhopal which left more than 3000 killed and lakhs affected. The Bhopal tragedy survivors still wait for the justice as so far due to lack of any criminal liabilities against Multinational Companies(MNCs) no one has been sent behind the bars. Styrene gas leaked in the southern city has left 11 killed and thousands are battling for life in hospitals.
Poisonous methyl isocynate gas had leaked from the Union Carbide factory in the state capital on December 2-3 night in 1984, killing several thousands and adversely affecting the health of lakhs of others who continue to suffer ill-health till date.
Reacting sharply on the Vizag gas leak, the Bhopal gas victims have strongly demanded fixation of criminal liabilities against Multi National Companies (MNCs) for the deadly industrial disasters. Compensation does not serve any purpose and on the contrary, criminal liabilities should be fixed, gas victims added.
Rachna Dhingra, convener of Bhopal Group of Information and Action(BGOIA) said, “ Government of India has not learnt any lesson from Bhopal’s UCC gas leak. It is reason, Vizag gas leak occurred in Vishakhapatnam. There must be criminal liabilities against MNCs otherwise, MNCs will continue to run their affairs by distributing merge compensation to innocent people in the country. MNCs, by changing names, again start working in country. In case of Bhopal gas tragedy, still 5 lakh people are suffering from many chronic diseases so they are most vulnerabe to COVID-19 infections.”
Still 5 lakh gas victims are suffering from respiratory and other chronic diseases and they are most vulnerable to COVID-19 infections, said Rachna adding that 17 of the 20 deaths reported in Bhopal were of gas tragedy survivors. She said that organisations working among the survivors had written to the central and state governments on March 21 that these people were five times more vulnerable to coronavirus infections due to their ailments but the situation was ignored by the authorities concerned
35 years on the survivors of the Bhopal tragedy still wait for the justice. Bhopal’s district and sessions court had convicted, on June7,2010, directors and top executives of Union Carbide Corporation(UCC) under sections 304-A of IPC with 2 years punishment. There were seven accused but no one has been sent to jail so far as all appealed the matter and government and investigating agency approached for enhancement of punishment. UCC chairman Warren Anderson remained absconding till his death. However, initially, case was registered under 304-B which has provision of 10 years imprisonment but later on, it was diluted in Supreme Court to Section 304-A of IPC which has maximum punishment of 2 years.