ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Bhopal Ten Years After

TEN years ago, lethal gas leaking out of a storage tank of the Indian subsidiary of the US multinational chemical giant, Union Carbide Corporation, devastated an entire population, most of whom were desperately poor, living on the fringes of urban society. Last week, as a result of complicated corporate manoeuvres, Union Carbide India was laid to rest, thus erasing the identity of the perpetrator of the world's worst industrial disaster. The last act, of course, was a mere formality in which Mcleod Russel of the Khaitan group bought over the 50.4 per cent shares owned by UCC, which had, however, been transferred to the trust it had set up for founding a hospital for Bhopal's victims; a transfer which, on paper, is still being disputed. With this, the company will also shed its name to become Eveready Batteries. With the burying of the name will be erased the stigma attached to the multinational giant for a decade now and the corporate crimes of the company will be consigned to obscenity. Public memory is notoriously short. Ten years from now, except for the thousands of victims of the Bhopal disaster of December 3, 1984 and the diminishing number of activists and committed groups, Union Carbide will only be associated with the Rs 120-crore hospital which is planned to be built by the Bhopal hospital trust, and not the lethal gas leak from its Bhopal plant which killed thousands immediately-, and the effects of which continue to haunt a population mutilated physically, socially and economically by the disaster.

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