From City of Joy to Midnight in Bhopal
The Hindu 27th January 2001

BHOPAL: French author, Dominique Lapierre today said he would see to it that the Union Carbide gas disaster of 1984 is never forgotten.

Addressing a special gathering after inaugurating a gynaecology clinic set up exclusively for gas victims in one of the most severely affected neighbourhoods in the vicinity of the Carbide plant, Lapierre said: "Today happened to be one of the most emotional days of my life." The new clinic has been named after Lapierre and his famous book "City of Joy". It has been funded and equipped by him and run by the Sambhavna Trust that has been providing medical treatment and and maintaining the medical record and follow up of nearly 10,000 gas affected patients.

Lapierre, who is accompanied by more than half a dozen friends from the media coming from different countries, praised the efforts of Sambhavna Trust and said he was drawn to it through his interaction with Mr. Satinath Sarangi, founder of this Trust.

The association with this Trust and its activities "gives us the vitamins we need to continue to help and show that all of you are our brothers and sisters," he said.

Lapierre said the philosophy of his life has been moulded by the proverb "all that is not given is lost." He was exposed to this proverb in a Calcutta slum, the French author told the audience. He also cited the example of a child from the slums of Calcutta , who had been picked, cured of leprosy and educated.

This boy has now secured a diploma in mechanical engineering Lapierre pointed out, saying one would understand how much has been achieved only by visiting the 'basti' where he was born.

Emphasising that he was here only to help, Dominique Lapierre said "we are neither involved in politics nor intend to chastise. The aim is to understand the problems (of the gas victims) and see what can be done through the limited resources available to make things better for the victims," he said, recalling Mother Teresa's message that anyone can contribute to bring little love and justice. Lapierre, along with Javier Moro, his nephew and co-author, has written "Midnight in Bhopal" focussing on the gas disaster.

The French and Spanish editions of the book will shortly be released and the English edition would follow.