48 ‘Bhopals’ waiting to happen in Orissa

The Pioneer, December 4, 2008
Bhubaneswar: On the No Pesticides Use Day to commemorate the 24th year of the Bhopal gas tragedy which left nearly 8,000 people dead and affected 5,20,000 others, a city-based organisation Living Farms, fighting pesticides, at a discussion on the Bhopal tragedy held here on Wednesday, pointed out that there are 48 “Bhopals” waiting to happen in Orissa unless the Government wakes up.
As per available statistics there are 48 major hazardous industries in 15 districts of Orissa that deal with 44 extremely toxic and highly inflammable chemicals. Out of those 15 districts, nine districts have no on site safety plans.
The Bhopal tragedy occurred because safety measures were not in place and also the factory was located in a densely populated area.
This situation abounds in the State which has an abysmal record of industrial safety.
Living Farms in association with Pesticide Action Network — Asia Pacific also campaigns against the use of pesticides in Indian agriculture many of which are banned in other countries, like Endosulphan and Paraquat. According to health experts, even very little amount of such pesticides can do great harm upon exposure.
The World Health Organisation estimates that yearly, at least 3 million people are poisoned and 200,000 die after using pesticides.
While many of the reported ill effects constitute acute cases of pesticide poisoning, it is the chronic long-term effects such as cancers that are of increasing concern.
A presentation on Bhopal, a photo exhibition on Bhopal and two short documentary films were shown in this meeting titled, “Remembering Bhopal”, which was attended by concerned citizen, activists and members of civil society organisations.

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