Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

#GS-03 Disaster Management

For Prelims

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

  • Bhopal Gas Tragedy is the name given to an industrial accident which caused a gas leak at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal on the night of 2 December 1984.
  • The gas leak released methyl isocyanate (MIC) which led to the deaths of over 5,000 people and adversely affected the health of lakhs more.
  • The gas drifted over the densely populated neighbourhoods around the plant resulting in the immediate death of thousands of people.
  • The final death toll due to the gas and the resultant panic was estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000.
  • About half a million survivors suffered from long term side effects such as respiratory problems, eye irritation or blindness, muscular dystrophy from exposure to the toxic gas.

Methyl Isocyanate

  • Methyl isocyanate is a colorless liquid with a a sharp odor.
  • Methyl isocyanate is extremely toxic to humans and can cause Pulmonary edema even from short-term
  • MIC was used by UCIL as an intermediate in the production of carbaryl.
  • MIC is not known to cause cancer.

Bhopal Gas Leak Act

  • The Bhopal Gas Leak Act in March 1985 to allow government of India to act as the legal representative for victims.
  • It reached a settlement with the Union Carbide India Limited in 1989 for an amount of $470 million to be paid by the company.
Supreme Court laid down guidelines for how the money can be spend.
  • Rs 1,00,000-3,00,000 were to be given to the family of those who died.
  • Fully or partially disabled were to be given Rs 50,000-5,00,000.
  • Those who had a temporary injury were to be given Rs 25,000-1,00,000.

Current Stand of the Government

  • The Central Government in a curative petition in the Supreme Court, has contended that the 1989 settlement is insufficient.
  • It has sought ₹7,400 crore as additional funds from the pesticide company due to presence of fresh data of more suffering caused by the incident.