Bhopali survivor-activists chained themselves to the gates of Dow Chemical’s Mumbai office, demanding that Dow (1) obey the summons issued by a Bhopal court; (2) pay additional compensation and; (3) clean up the site.
COVER i – BHOPAL GROUP FOR INFORMATION AND ACTION ii – CONTENTS iii – List of Appendices and Tables iv – Map showing gas-affected areas of Bhopal 1– INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
– The Bhopal Gas Disaster is an unprecedented event
– Government’s response fraught with apathy and lack of innovation 2 – Durga Bai 3 – Disbursement of compensation is a task of unprecented magnitude
– OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
– Data Collection 4 – Photos, Shakti Nagar, New Gandhi Nagar 5 – Study Population, Methodology, Findings and Discussion
– PROBLEMS IN IDENTIFICATION OF GAS VICTIMS
– i. Children born after the disaster 6 – ii Incomplete coverage by surveys, claim registration and issuance of ration cards 7 – iii. Substantial number of residents are not receiving interim relief 8 – PROBLEM IN AFFIXATION OF COMPENSATION AMOUNTS
– i. Medical examination of gas victims is incomplete
– ii. Essential tests have not been carried out on a large majority of the medically-examined population 9 -iii. A large majority of the medically-examined population has not been informed about the categories alloted to them 10 -iv. Medical categorization of claimants reveals gross underestimation of injuries
– 3. USE PATTERN OF GOVERNMENT MEDICARE 11 – CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
– i. Alternative scheme for disbursement of compensation 12 – ii. Watchdog committee needed to monitor disbursement
– iii. Medical Commission should be set up to supervise and monitor healthcare of victims
– REFERENCES 13 – APPENDIX I: CRITIQUE OF MEDICAL CATEGORIZATION
– The process of injury assessment followed by the Madhya Pradesh government is faulty
– Is a rational assessment of injury possible? 14 – Basis for interim relief
– APPENDIX II: ENCROACHMENT ON CIVIL RIGHTS
– Report of an investigation into “Anti-Encroachment Drive” by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, M.P., June 1991 15 – The re-victimization of the victims
– The demolition of houses
– Terror and protest 16 – Why were these slums chosen for demolition?
– Legal procedure not followed 17 – Supreme Court order
– CONCLUSIONS 18, 19, 20, 21 – APPENDIX III: SCHEDULE OF SURVEY 22, 23 – APPENDIX !V: HEALTH DAMAGE DUE TO BHOPAL GAS DISASTER – REVIEW OF MEDICAL RESEARCH 24 – APPENDIX V: A NOTE ON THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION TO THE BHOPAL GAS VICTIMS
– Final disbursement based on the proposed scheme will lead to major delays
– The proposed scheme will lead to a denial of adequate compensation to the majority of the victims
– The scheme will give rise to large scale corruption
– The scheme is susceptible to abuse by non-victim persons 25 – Alternative scheme for disbursement of compensation
– Outline of alternative scheme
– ADVANTAGES OF THE ALTERNATIVE SCHEME
– The scheme outlined will provide for a fair level of compensation and cause the least disruption to the life of the community
– The alternative scheme will enable compensation to be received immediately
– The alternative scheme curtails the involvement of middlemen
– The alternative scheme safeguards the interests of the gas victims 26 – APPENDIX VI: WARD WISE CATEGORIZATION FIGURES PRESENTED BY THE DIRECTORATE OF CLAIMS, M.P. GOVERNMENT, UP TO DECEMBER 30, 1989 27 – APPENDIX VII: THIRD WORLD NETWORK FEATURES – CASE EXAMPLES OF VICTIMS OF CATEGORIZATION
– Suleman Khan
– Shakila Bi
– Bhojraj 28 – Chhotelal
– Narayani Bai
– Aladin 29 – TABLES
– Table I: Number of male and female residents in the three bastis and number of children born after the gas disaster
– Table II: Number and percentage of people not covered by ICMR and TISS surveys, claim registration and issuance of ration cards
– Table III: Number and percentage of people not receiving interim relief 30 – Table IV: Number and percentage of people left out of medical examination
– Table V: Number of persons and percentage of medically examined population administered specific examinations
– Table VI: Number and percentage of people who have not received notification about their categories 31 – Table VII: Number of persons and percentage of notified population receiving different categories
– Table VIII: Number and percentage of people visiting government hospitals and private clinics 32 – ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ERRATA BACK COVER
A chronicle of the continuing medical catastrophe in Bhopal with supporting medical papers and reports, documents, press cuttings, articles and research studies.
––The immediate effects of gas exposure and Union Carbide’s response.
–– Survivors’ first clinic and sodium thiosulphate scandal.
–– Damaged births in the aftermath of the gas leak.
— Refusal of UCC and later Dow to share medical studies into the effects of MIC poisoning.
–– Assessment of the effects of MIC poisoning.
–– Medical criteria for the disbursement of relief.
–– Government hospitals in Bhopal. Shortcomings and attitude to survivors. Supreme Court Monitoring Committee reports.
–– Foundation of the BMHRC and reports on its performance.
–– ICMR research projects. Cut off after just ten years and latterly resumed after survivors’ protests.
— Studies into the contamination of soil and water by chemicals abandoned at the derelict Union Carbide factory and their effects on the human body.
–– Sambhavna clinic research studies.
On the night of December 3, 1984, 22 year old Kumkum Saxena sat in her home atop Idgah hill in Bhopal studying for a neurology exam the next day. The phone rang. Hysterical voices talked about a chemical leak, pleading for help. “Oh God, they’ve done it again,” Saxena exclaimed. Chemical leaks were not new for her. They were the reason she resigned from Union Carbide.
It was the India of 1975. Starry-eyed Kumkum Saxena could barely believe she had landed a job as a medical officer with Union Carbide. “Fancy me working for an MNC! I was thrilled,” she says. Seven years later, the lustre had faded. Her frequent alerts about safety hazards, norms not followed, rubber masks not worn, had turned her into the girl “creating panic,” an embarrassment for the management. “They were painting such a rosy picture,” she says. “I would scream about silica dust and hydrocarbon levels. The more vocal I was, the more I was kept away. I did not get a pay raise and soon I was barred from management meetings.” At the end of 1982, Saxena decided it was time to quit.]
“Go against the wind. Put a wet cloth on your face to dissolve the gas,” Saxena told frantic callers. Poisonous methyl isocyanate (MIC) was choking the air. “There was so much gas, the leaves outside my door were singed,” Saxena says. “Had I panicked and opened the door, I would have been killed.” Nearly 20,000 were.
The next morning, the roads of Idgah hill were lined with blue faces and pink froth. “If only Union Carbide had told people how to protect themselves,” she says, “instead of running helter-skelter, thousands would not have left their houses.” It is such measures that Saxena had insisted upon. She knew how simple it was to prevent death.
But Saxena’s story begins before the night of December 3, 1984. That is why it is significant. She describes her job at Carbide as similar to that of a “school nurse” — running a medical centre with four beds and treating injured workers. As part of her training, she visited the research and development labs at the plant, realised the plant was producing extremely toxic chemicals, and learnt about threshold limits. “There was exposure to chemicals at totally unacceptable levels. There’d be a bag full of acid sitting there waiting to kill somebody. Silica and hydrocarbon levels were higher than prescribed. Sometimes there would be a leak not fixed, and yet the personnel were allowed to go there.”
On her own initiative, she began conducting regular blood tests. Often she’d find damaging results. “I’d remove employees from harmful exposure and treat them until the blood counts were normal again.” There were minor leaks “all the time”. The alarm sirens went off at the plant a few times a month, but “we’d contain them” before any fatalities.
The turning point came when one of those leaks did prove fatal. It was 1981. Ashraf Muhammed, a worker, was found drenched in phosgene (a poison gas used in both the World Wars). “We rushed him into the shower, but it was too late.” His death shook Saxena. She feared that if urgent steps were not taken, “there could be many more Ashrafs”. The world’s worst industrial disaster happened in Bhopal two years later.
“The warning bells should have gone off after Ashraf died,” she says. “That’s when I began insisting on a mass scale evacuation procedure.” It was the one thing Saxena was determined to have implemented. “People living near a toxic plant have the right to know what to do in disaster scenarios,” she says.
YET THE response was predictable — the equivalent of “shush little girl, the elders know better”. Saxena wasn’t surprised. “It’s expensive to keep people safe,” she says. “For a plant that wasn’t making money, that was too much trouble.” The year 1983 brought unprecedented financial losses at Union Carbide. That year, the monsoons were late, the cotton crop failed, and Indian farmers didn’t need Carbide’s product — the pesticide Sevin. India’s American dream seemed to be fading.
“Truckloads of Sevin came back,” Saxena says. “The losses were so huge, the company cut back on maintenance. There was an absolute disinterest in doing anything.” A plant with toxic chemicals, corroding structures, no maintenance, a demoralised workforce and apathy: “It had the makings of a perfect storm,” she points out.
Already the unused MIC being stored — three tanks full — was above permissible levels. Saxena says that because the plant was in a no-production mode, all the safety features — a flare tower that burns the gas, a series of valves and vents — that would have normally “contained” the MIC leak on December 3 were “switched off”.
Saxena — Kumkum Modwel after marriage — left India soon after the disaster. She now works as a primary healthcare physician in Connecticut, US. As she left, she carried with her the memory of a day that need not have happened, of lives that could have been saved. “I had a choice that day — to take my neurology exam or go to the ward. I chose the ward. I knew they’d be short of doctors,” she says. She remembers working with “five syringes”, trying to save the “chaiwala who used to give me samosas”, the Nepali boy, the halwai and his wife gasping for breath. “One of the reasons I wanted to leave the country is best explained by this line from Shakespeare: ‘Fair is foul and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air.”
On June 22, a Central Group of Ministers attempted to set right 26 years of neglect by announcing a new package for Bhopal victims:
• Rs 1,500 crore for compensation and rehabilitation. Rs 300 crore for the clean up of toxic waste
• Setting up of an ICMR centre in Bhopal
• Rs 220 crore for upgradation of designated Bhopal hospitals
• Curative petitions to the Supreme Court to review the 1991 out-ofcourt settlement of $470 million with Union Carbide; to review 1996 dilution of charges from culpable homicide to criminal negligence
• Warren Anderson’s extradition and the promise to pursue criminal liability of Dow Chemical
This is the Bhopal Campaign’s response to the offer:
• Compensation is based on a flawed system of damage assessment designed to downplay death and injury
• Only 40,000 victims — less than 10 percent — will receive adequate relief
• The GOM has not heeded the citizens’ demand for an Empowered Commission on Bhopal to oversee rehabilitation. Instead, it has passed on Rs 720 crore to the Madhya Pradesh government. Ministers and bureaucrats will pocket the money
• Much more than Rs 300 crore is required to clean the waste. The contamination has not yet been assessed
• The government plans to dump the waste in Pithampur, where families live within 200 metres. This violates the CPCT guidelines on toxic waste disposal. Instead, waste should be excavated and sent to a country that has disposal mechanisms
• The talk of hauling up Dow Chemical for liability is lip service. This has been the position of the Law Ministry for the last five years. GOM has made no recommendation on how Dow will be made answerable to an MP court
These documents were obtained via the ‘discovery process’ in a class action suit brought by victims of water contamination against Union Carbide Corporation in New York.
There are five hundred and eighty four (584) pages of private memos, letters, telexes and press cuttings, presented here in the order they were placed by Union Carbide. They need reorganising by date and subject. The work of cataloguing them all and putting them on the site will take some time, but work in progress can be seen below.
Page 2 of undated letter from C.K. Harayan, Resident General Manager of EIIL (Eveready Industries India Limited) referring to quantities of Sevin residue and Naphthol tar on the site (44.55 and 2.54 metric tonnes respectively) and referring peevishly to IICT Hyderabad work on which he has not had a progress report.
June 23, 1998, From C.K. Harayan at Eveready to MPPCB’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr P.C. Seth in reply to the latter’s letters 10715 dated 18.6.98 and 8351 dated 14.5.98. The work of closing the landfill is nearing completion and monsoon allowing will be finished within a month. The secured landfill is constructed only on one part of Pond III. Mentions writing to four laboratories about doing chemical analyses of soil and water based on NEERI parameters. The four are, NEERI, Nagpur, IICT, Hyderabad, ITRC Lucknow and NCL, Pune.
June 22, 1998. Harayan’s letter, mentioned above, Eveready to NEERI, IICT, ITRC and NCL about chemical analysis of soil and water samples from in and around the Solar Evaporation Ponds. Samples are to be collected under the supervision of MPPCB officials. The targeted properties and elements of the samples (as per NEERI report) are enclosed.
The parameters to be analysed. Targets were calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, sulphate, organic carbon, nitrate, carbaryl and alpha naphthol.
June 22, 1998. Harayan, Eveready to ITRC Lucknow, inviting them to analyse soil and water samples from the Solar Evaporation Ponds. Parameters enclosed.
The parameters to be analysed. Targets were calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, sulphate, organic carbon, nitrate, carbaryl and alpha naphthol.
15 June 1998. “Inspection Report on the Progress of Solar Evaporation Ponds at EIIL, Bhopal” by R Swaminathan. He visited the site between April 20, 1998 – June 15, 1998. Details of work included laying LPDE sheets, covering with clay, laying network of perforated PVC pipes, covering with gravel and fine sand and final clay cover. The work was found to comply with the specifications given in NEERI’s November 1992 report.
June18, 1998, Dr P.C. Seth of M.P. Pradushan Niyantran (MPPCB) to Harayan in EIIL. In Hindi. Letter 8351 referred to in #2 above, reminding him that the Board had ordered testing to be carried out and asking him to get it done within a month and keep the Board informed of progress.
June 6, 1998. Press cutting from Madhya Pradesh Chronicle. TANK LEVELLING WORK STOPPED BY GOVERNMENT. “The Minister for Local Self Government has issued orders to the officers concerned to stop illegal levelling of tanks in Union Carbide premises containing chemical waste with immediate effect.”
June 4, 1998. Inspection Report, Joshi and Associates. Finds some materials needed for the work of closing the landfill missing, others “not up to the mark”, work not properly done. The work would have to be concluded speedily as rain was expected in 15 days.
June 3, 1998. MP Chronicle. TOXIC REMAINS IN UC PREMISES BEING COVERED UP. Sangathan leader Abdul Jabbar warn of danger to ground water citing pungent smelling water in Atal Ayub Nagar and J.P. Nagar.
May 14, 1998. Upmanyu, Member Secretary of MPPCB to Harayan at EIIL. In Hindi. Noting that sediments from ponds 1, 2 and 3 have been spread in pond 3. and expressing the worry that the imminent monsoon rains would fill the drained ponds and that surrounding areas could run the risk of being contaminated.
PoisonPapers1 15.pdf STUDIES ON THE SAFE DISPOSAL OF SEVIN AND NAPHTHOL TAR RESIDUES LYING IN THE PREMISES OF MS EIL FORMERLY MS UCIL, BHOPAL. This report by the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, covers pages 15 – 119.
Undated letter from K.V. Raghavan of IICT Hyderabad to MPPCB announcing completion of the report.
Undated letter from Dr Sajid Hussain of IICT Hyderabad to MPCCB, attaching report. Referring to MPPCB letter of Sept 15, 1997 asking for the report, upon receipt of which the final instalment of 2.5 lakhs could be released. Recommends a dedicated incinerator.
December 17, 1989. Letter from Mr Khare of MPPCB to the Director, Regional Research Lab, Hyderabad, referring to letter received from Mr M.S. Murty, Advisor (Chemicals), Government of India Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Delhi. The letter was sent via the MPPCB and seems to have inspired them to snap into action. Murty’s letter (below) orders MPPCB/UCIL to send samples of Sevin and Naphthol tars to RRL Hyderabad for extremely urgent analysis. MPPCB’s letter confirms it is sending the samples and says they should be analysed “on lines suggested” by Murthy. The matter is so urgent that the work should begin before there is even time to draw up a contract and agree payment amounts. A handwritten note added to the letter informs Dr Sajid Hussain that the Director wished to discuss the matter with him on December 31, 1989.
December 14, 1989. Letter from Murthy at GoI Ministry of Industry, Dept of Chemicals and Petrochemicals giving decisions of a meeting at which were present: Dr S. Vardarajan, Shri Shyamal(?) Ghosh (Joint Secretary, Bhopal Gas Relief Departpment, GoMP), Dr G. Sundaram (Joint Secretary, GoI Dept of Environment) and Shri V.N. Kaul (Secretary, GoMP). The tests for Naphthol residue to be performed were for: i) methyl carbamate acid (ii) 1-naptha phenol (iii) 1-Napthol amine (iv) Napthol dicarbamate (v) specific gravity (vi) viscosity (vii) corrosive properties (viii) mixability (?) with coal tar at 70˚-80˚centigrade (ix) any release of poisonous gas at 80˚ centigrade.
July 28, 1992. Vijay Gokhaleof UCIL to Bose, Basu, re pending ADL fees, Langseth fees. Refers to proposed Langseth (David Langseth of ADL) site visit in August 92, doubts whether Bose/CPL(??) feel the site is conducive to such a visit. Refers to Bose visit to NY in Sept and a forthcoming meeting in Singapore.
PoisonPapers1 135.pdf PoisonPapers1 136.pdf PoisonPapers1 137.pdf PoisonPapers1 138.pdf
Memo April 6, 1982 from MD Buckingham UCAP to Norm Gaines at UCC and UCIL managers. About the two sites in Bhopal, the 65 acre factory site and 34 acre site containing three solar evaporation ponds. “Both sites remain essentially as they were in December 1984.” Clean up standards to be determined by NEERI/ADL and be acceptable to GoI. Site leases to be relinquished as soon as feasible. “Credibility” is to be maintained with NEERI, GoI and MP state agencies. C.K. Harayan, UCIL’s plant manager is to the US for training mid 1992.
March 30,1992. UCIL’s Bose to UCC’s Gaines, referring to meeting in Singapore on Mar 17, 1992, gives results of analysis of well water outside the factory including R and C presumably the two wells in Atal Ayub Nagar, which has just come up. The wells are ‘unstable’. V5 is contaminated.
Chart, V5 smells strongly of napthaline, 100/100 mortality of fish (percentage deaths after 24 and 48 hrs).
Report: Internal Investigations of Ground Water and Soil at UCIL Bhopal plant premises, by Harayan and Kanhere, August 7, 1992 (This shows that Harayan switched seamlessly from UCIL to EIIL)
PoisonPapers1 164.pdf PoisonPapers1 165.pdf
Memo to Gaines from Mike Buckingham of UCAP ANWGDV1 (?) April 26, 1992 revealing matter was discussed in Danbury on April 3, 1992. Bose, who is in town (Singapore?) wants further review of NEERI draft specifications and wants David Langseth to visit in August. UCIL’s C.K. Harayan to receive training in the US.
PoisonPapers1 167.pdf PoisonPapers1 168.pdf
Gokhale to CBI June 29, 1993 announcing plans to conduct a study and begin dismantling parts of the plant, non-MIC areas, acknowledges deterioration of plant structures. Everything has been lying “as is where is” for the past eight years.
CBI to Gokhale July 20, 1993 not wanting the CBI to be made a party to anything UCIL does at the site