Posts Tagged ‘Union Carbide’
There is no end to the tales of official bungling in the schemes prepared for providing assistance to the Bhopal gas affected people. After the disaster following the leak of MiC gas from Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant in December 1984, a “step-up scheme” was started to provide training-cum-employment to the surviving victims. Under the scheme the affected people were to be given training in various vocations. They were then to be provided financial assistance to start their own business (75 per cent bank loan and 25 per cent government grant). The total number of beneficiaries: 263. Under another scheme, 3600 persons were to be trained in 40 vocations every year from 1990-91 to 1998-99. Only 4800 persons were trained when the scheme was stopped.
Then another programme of imparting vocational training to the affected people was started in 1986. Only 8,000 persons were given the training. But that also served no purpose, as the follow-up assistance was not provided to them for starting their own business.
On October 5, 1987, Union Minister of Industries J. Vengal Rao laid the foundation stone of a “special industrial area” where industrial units were to be set up for giving employment to the Bhopal gas victims exclusively. About 10,000 persons were to be given direct employment by early 1990 in the first phase; 170 worksheds for the first phase were constructed well on time.
The projects envisaged setting up of small and medium scale industrial units over a 21 hectare piece of land in the Govindpura Industrial Area of Bhopal for exclusive employment of the gas leak victims. The industrialists were to be invited for setting up their units in which heavy labour would not be required. The electronics industry and the diamond cutting industry were identified, to begin with, as suited to the requirement.
The government, on its part, had promised to provide to these units the incentives and facilities available to the industrial units in backward districts as a special case because Bhopal is not a backward district. These included grants to the extent of 15 per cent and sales tax exemption for seven years.
The scheme was abruptly abandoned. The sheds constructed for setting up industrial units for the gas affected people were allotted by the BJP government of Sunderlal Patwa as barracks to the Rapid Action Force (RAF).
Dr Heeresh Chandra, one of the country’s foremost forensic experts, was of the opinion that the US multinational Union Carbide Corporation (UCC)had experimented on the Indians some deadly chemical for use in a future biological warfare. Dr Chandra was involved in the investigations of post-mortem blood and tank residues. Phosgene and cyanide, the two most deadly chemicals, were also found in the blood of the victims, though these two chemicals had no business to be stored in the plant which was supposed to manufacture pesticides. (Phosgene was “effectively used as a combat gas during the First World War”. It is a severe irritant to the entire respiratory tract).
Dr Heeresh Chandra’s theory is supported by the findings of Swedish medical practitioner Ingrid Eckerman who was a member of the now-dissolved International Medical Commission on Bhopal (IMCB) and had been visiting Bhopal frequently in connection with her research. She says in her book, “Bhopal Saga: Causes and Consequences of the World’s Largest Industrial Disaster”: “according to reports seized from the Research and Development centre of the plant at Bhopal as well as documents traced from other offices of the firm, the (Union Carbide) Corporation had conducted a number of experiments on animals and plants, and was aware of the effects of MiC. It is likely that they had information not only on short-term effects, but also on medium and long-term effects”.
She says in her book: “a Research and Development unit was set up in Bhopal in 1976. The centre, the biggest in Asia, had five insect-rearing laboratories and a two-hectare experimental farm for testing chemical agents. Here, new molecules were synthesised and tested. It appeared that the UCIL (Union Carbide India Limited) was conducting (from 1975) field studies using new chemical agents without getting the projects cleared by the top-level committee where all collaborative research efforts should be screened from a security angle”.
She then refers to the reports about the presence of chemical warfare experts at Bhopal studying MiC’s effects (after the disaster). “For example, it is known that from the Pentagon, a medical doctor was sent to collect military intelligence regarding the effects of the leaked gases. From Sweden (her own country), two doctors were sent to make a report for the National Defence Research Institute”.