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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 16:51 GMT
Bhopal disaster: Your views
An Indian environmental activist paints a protest sign against the wall of the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, 1 December 2004
Friday 3 December marked the twentieth anniversary of the world's worst industrial accident in Bhopal, India.

Nearly 3,000 people died after a gas leak at a chemical factory owned by the US company Union Carbide. At least 15,000 have died from related illnesses since.

ASK THE EXPERT
Tim Edwards from the International Campaign for Justice for Bhopal answered your questions in an interactive forum

Survivors still suffer chronic respiratory and other illnesses.

Indian officials have announced a detailed survey of contamination at the site, coinciding with the anniversary. Amnesty International say the world has failed to help survivors or to punish the guilty.

Send us your views on the 20th anniversary of Bhopal. Do you remember the disaster? Could it happen again?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

So many people running on the street
Vinay Shukla, Hamilton, USA
I was about 10 that night in Bhopal. I remember my father and I coming out of our home and watching so many people running on the street. I felt a burning sensation and itchy eyes. Our family of five rode on a scooter and my father somehow drove us to a relative's place some 10 kms further. Next day when we came back home, without realising what had happened, there was another and larger crowd running for their lives (because of a rumour). I, fortunately, didn't get ill but my dad has some sort of skin infection that won't go away.
Vinay Shukla, Hamilton, USA

The events at Bhopal are a tragic reminder of why countries (all countries) need strong regulatory agencies to keep industry in line.
Brent, Philadelphia, PA, USA

From BBCHindi.com: I am most annoyed with the government machinery. It is a shame that the people affected by the Bhopal gas tragedy are still suffering.
Animesh, Mumbai, India

From BBCHindi.com: Justice delayed is justice denied. It has been 20 years since this tragedy but the culprits are still at large. The Indian government is not trying hard enough.
Madhusudan, Japan

From BBCHindi.com: It feels bad seeing the victims still waiting to get justice. Why can't the country that claims to be the largest democracy impart justice to its own people?
Abhijit, Munger, Bihar, India

There is lots of blame but no action
Steve Wislon, Lloc, North Wales
There is lots of blame but no action. We can carry on pointing the finger for another 20 years or the international community can actually do something to help - send aid to survivors, and clean the site for the next generation. Blame won't help, positive action will.
Steve Wislon, Lloc, North Wales

We move factories like this out of the US to places where not only is labour cheap but so, it seems, is life itself. An accident like this in the US would have immediately bankrupted the company, put all of its top management in jail for the rest of their lives, sparked endless congressional investigations, and resulted in countless lawsuits and lots of new laws. But in India, all Union Carbide had to do was pay two billion dollars and move on. The risks to health, life, and property are the downside that third world countries assume when they steal jobs from Americans who fought for a century for protection from this kind of utter irresponsibility.
Mark, USA

I am frankly staggered that 20 years after this appalling event the people of Bhopal are still suffering. This surely has to be laid at the door of various Indian governments and Union Carbide. Now is the time for both the Indian government and the successor to Union Carbide India to put aside the arguments and get on with the job of finally making life for the people of Bhopal better.
Tim Baker, Sydney, Australia

I remember the disaster well. As usual there seems to be one rule for the Americans and one for the rest of the world. If this had happened in America, they would have been prosecuted but instead they have got away scott free.
Richard W, London, UK

I honestly believe that it could happen again. People just don't wake up the facts and implement measures of prevention.
Sam, Leeds, England

I am just so utterly shocked and wish I could help. Even 20 years after the disaster the site is still littered with poison. How can the Indian government let their people down in that way?
Anne, Southampton, UK

What about compensation for the survivors or their families? It disgusts me that a multi-million dollar company cannot take responsibility for its actions.
Liz, London, UK

Bhopal was a terrible tragedy waiting to happen
Alan Glenister, Bushey, Herts, UK
The Bhopal disaster was a terrible tragedy waiting to happen. Will it happen again? Of course it will. Chernobyl confirmed that.
Alan Glenister, Bushey, Herts, UK

I was a first year medical student in India when this tragedy occurred. We held peace marches, demonstrations and tried to educate our fellow villagers and countrymen about the tragedy. Twenty years on, I was saddened by the fact that nothing substantial has been done for the victims. Your programme on BBC1 on Wednesday was very balanced and mature. I wish Indians in the West could do more to enhance awareness and gather support to seek compensation and care for the people of Bhopal.
Sunil Rajan, Birmingham, UK

If Bhopal had happened in the UK or the US or any other country in the West, there would have been a massive furore with billions of pounds of compensation being paid to the victims. But it would not even happen in those countries because companies like Union Carbide go to third world countries and seem to be far less concerned about safety than their bottom line.
CD, Manchester, UK

I only know of Bhopal from what I read. Unfortunately such accidents cannot be prevented. They happened and will happen again. It is the price humanity has to pay for progress and greed. All we can do is hope that some of us learn the lessons and try to make sure that it will not happen again. My heart goes out to the people of Bhopal, but it's of little use to blame Dow Chemicals, Union Carbide, or anyone else now. We are all only human, and to err is also human, even if the price of those errors is as high as it was in Bhopal.
SVS, Stockholm, Sweden

'The world' has no obligation to help at all
Peter, Nottingham, UK
'The world' has no obligation to help at all. Union Carbide disabled three safety systems (a refrigeration unit, a flare stack and a gas scrubber) to save money. Any of those measures could have prevented this tragedy. A fourth, a water curtain was set too low, otherwise this could also have stopped the gas. Union Carbide and its successor, Dow, are 100 percent responsible for paying proper compensation and decontaminating the site. Why should the world bail out their shareholders? They're happy enough to reap the profits from chemicals produced on the cheap in the third world.
Peter, Nottingham, UK

As a chemical engineer working in the oil and gas sector, safety is my number one priority. To cut corners for the sake of money saving, while jeopardising peoples' lives is disappointing. I think we should all strive to ensure that procedures and processes are efficient, practical, safe, and that they are adhered to at all times. We can all learn from the lessons of Bhopal. Never cut corners.
Ranjit Ramchander, Aberdeen, Scotland

I remember it being reported. The recreation of the events on BBC TV last night was shocking. I am glad I watched it as we should not forget this terrible event. Amnesty is quite right in saying the world failed and continues to fail Bhopal. Imagine it happening in London, Liverpool or Manchester. What would have happened if 3,000 people had died there due to criminal negligence? And for those tens of thousands still enduring the misery of the after effects, would they have been forgotten if they were here?
Dave Sandilands, Bristol, UK

I clearly remember the disaster and I have no doubt it could and will happen again. There are so many similar plants around the world in poorer countries. Unfortunately the attitude of the more affluent countries is to place such dangerous plants somewhere cheap and where any damage caused will not be on their own doorstep.
Sarah, Chester, UK

For the Indian authorities to say "it will be a first step to clean up" after 20 years is an abomination. Both they an Union Carbide should be held responsible and brought to justice for crimes against humanity.
MJ, Germany

Foreign corporations should be forced by law and penalty to maintain the same standards and regulations as their country of origin. Western, or industrialized, nations have littered the world with their fleeing corporations to these unregulated lands in the name of profit. As more and more corporations leave North America and Europe, these disasters are more likely to happen again in the near future.
James, Lexington, KY, USA

I was lucky to survive the gas leak purely because of the wind's direction
Rammohan Nandiraju, Bristol, UK
I was lucky to survive the gas leak purely because of the wind's direction. People forget or are oblivious to where industrialisation is leading society. It's a shame that big corporations get away with this. The US is still not allowing the extradition of former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson to India. Warren Anderson is a fugitive on run.
Rammohan Nandiraju, Bristol, UK

It is a matter of when there will be another disaster. More and more companies are moving to third world countries for greater "efficiency". Don't they mean greed? The people of these countries are not trained sufficiently but are cheap, so the attitude seems to be: what does it matter when these disasters occur. Companies just move on. When it comes down to profits versus safety companies will choose profits every time if they think they can get away with it.
V Moore, Bridgend, South Wales

Why do we never hear about the Indian government's responsibility. This was just one of the many examples where Indira Gandhi's five year plans had disastrous effects on her people. The Indian Government forced Union Carbide to increase the output from their factory to meet the government's goal. The Bhopal disaster is yet another example of Indira Gandhi's socialism and oppression. The two others was forced sterilisation and the coup in 1975.
Sanjay, Calcutta, India

I spent a few days in Bhopal a number of years after the disaster and I have never come across a more sickening way of treating human beings. There was no help at all for the people of Bhopal and the anger at the Union Carbide organisation and the American Government was very clear. It is no wonder that there is such an anti-American feeling in so many parts of the world when their behaviour as a country is in this case clearly below acceptable human standards.
Tony, London, UK




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