Abhinav Khare deep dives into the fateful night of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and the blame game that ensued
It was the night of December 2, 1984. During one of the routine operations at 9:30 pm, huge amounts of water entered the MIC tanks which triggered a violent reaction and increased the temperature and the pressure of the tank ruptured the discs and the poisonous gas entered the atmosphere of Bhopal at 12:30am. Senior officials of the factory were aware of the toxic build-up at least an hour before the disaster took place, yet the warning siren was sounded only after an hour of the leak. By that time, the gas had spread and people were running around in panic. People were pouring in at the hospital, but doctors did not know how to treat them. When they called the doctor of UCIL, he said that the gas was just like tear gas and was not deadly. Unofficial claims suggest that more than 16,000 people died in this incident.
The Government of India filed a lawsuit claiming $3 billion as compensation but UCC felt that the government was to be blamed as they were also aware of the toxicity of the plant. Despite UCC claiming that they had emergency plans setup post the disaster, none of it was true, as when people rushed to the hospitals, doctors were clueless regarding the treatment of such victims.
UCC’s defence was that it owned only 50.9% stakes in UCIL and that the company was solely run by Indians. According to them, their last American employee left 2 years before the accident. They claimed that they had no involvement in the day to day activities of the UCIL and that it functioned independently. Therefore, UCC should not be held responsible for the gas leak. However, these claims turned out to be false. Investigations revealed that UCC had significant control over UCIL and every major decision taken by UCIL had to be approved by UCC.
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About Abhinav Khare
Abhinav Khare is the CEO of Asianet News Network and also the host of a daily show named Deep Dive with AK. He has a lifetime collection of books and gadgets and has already pinged more than hundred cities around the globe.
He is a tech entrepreneur, who is passionate about policy, technology, economy and philosophy from ancient India. He earned an MS Engineering from the ETH Zurich and an MBA Finance from the London Business School.
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Last Updated Nov 8, 2019, 8:05 PM IST