RECALLING THE TRAGEDY

While multiple programmes were organized across the Valley to mark the Pollution Prevention-cum-Bhopal Gas Tragedy Day, today, it is quite surprising to find the day passing off with hardly any programme being organized in this regard in Jammu Division. Isn’t it an irony that one of the worst tragedies of the nation due to toxic gas leak in Bhopal thirty four years ago has been most probably forgotten by the stakeholders in the society in the province, be it the Govt, the NGOs or the common people. On this day people need to be made aware about the fact that the survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy continue to bear the consequences of the tragedy even today which is evident from their  demand for proper rehabilitation and adequate compensation besides proper medical treatment for resultant ailments even after 34 years of the incident. Bhopal Gas Leak is termed as the world’s worst industrial disaster that killed over 15,000 people after methyl isocyanate leaked on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in Bhopal and more than five lakh people were affected due to the toxic gas effect. It is pertinent to mention here that various organizations fighting for gas leak survivors have been seeking proper medical care, adequate compensation and cleaning of the groundwater and soil which became contaminated after the incident. It is really pathetic to find that despite thirty four years after the tragedy the woes of the survivors remain unaddressed for which the organizations have accused the   Madhya Pradesh and central governments of neglecting the victims. According to Bhopal Group for Information and Action, recent scientific studies show that deaths and diseases attributable to exposure to Union Carbide’s gases continue to occur in Bhopal till date and that over 80 per cent of the recommendations of the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee for medical rehabilitation of victims still remain un implemented. Moreover, there are allegations that the toxic waste generated during UCIL’s operation from 1969 to 1984 was dumped in and around the plant, leading to severe soil and water contamination which is a serious pollution issue. It would not be wrong to state that instead of carrying out a comprehensive study to estimate the extent and gravity of the damage, the magnitude of the problem has been grossly underestimated. The height of things is that even a proper protocol for treatment of most gas-related ailments has not been evolved after 34 years. Keeping in view the shortcomings in addressing the world’s worst industrial disaster, it is high time for the government both at the Centre as well as the states to formulate result oriented strategies primarily to prevent such disasters and in case of eventuality have fool proof plans to address the victims’ woes. While it is worth  appreciating that  awareness programmes were held in the Valley at Industrial Estate Doabgah, Sopore, Industrial Estate Rangreth Budgam, Industrial Estate Ganderbal, IE Branawari Kupwara with officers of Pollution Control Board throwing light on pollution control measures with representatives of the industry besides programmes organised in other districts in which a large number of men and women industrial workers participated making the masses aware about the new methods of pollution control and industrial disaster management, it is hoped that such mass awareness programmes are conducted regularly across Jammu province that houses maximum number of industries of this state. The Day reminds the nation and the world to remain ever alert and geared up to face the challenge of such tragedies in future.