PORTRAIT OF
A CORPORATE CRIME

Raghu Rai's photographs, on exhibition in Mumbai and on the net courtesy of Greenpeace, tell the horrific story.

A unique insight into the human and environmental tragedy that has engulfed the Indian city since December 1984, when an explosion at Union Carbide's pesticide plant released lethal gases into the city, causing the world's worst industrial disaster.

Part one shows the immediate aftermath of the disaster and the tragic effects of an avoidable disaster.

Part two shows the devastating effects of the disaster on local people who are still suffering almost 18 years later.

Part three. The legacy of the disaster touches peoples' everyday lives in Bhopal almost 18 years on. The community refuses to suffer in silence but will their cries for justice be heard in the corporate board rooms of the US?

 

 

Dear friends,

At midnight on 2nd/3rd December 1984, deadly toxins at a badly-run Union Carbide (now wholly owned by Dow Chemicals) plant in Bhopal burst into the atmosphere, engulfing half a million of India’s poor in the world’s worst ever industrial disaster. In hours a historic city became a gas chamber. As dawn broke, some 8,000 dead were strewn across the city’s streets in postures of agony. They had died in terror, choking, their eyes, throats and lungs on fire. As they fled in blind panic from the factory, urine and faeces ran down their legs. The gases stripped the linings from their lungs and they drowned in their own fluids.

That was 18 years ago. You’d think that by now the survivors would have received proper medical care, that they’d have been adequately compensated for their loss and their suffering, that somebody would have had to answer in court for what was done to them.

On all counts, you’d be wrong.

7¢ a day for 18 years of suffering

Dow-Carbide is one of the world’s biggest, wealthiest corporations, affording it the best lawyers, the most expensive PR, the most

powerful high-level government allies. It forced a ‘settlement’ with the Indian government which gave the survivors ‘compensation’ of a maximum of $500 each - many received less - not even enough to cover the cost of simple medicines. Over 18 years, this works out at seven cents per day, enough for a cup of tea.

On 7¢ a day they’ve had to struggle against pain, breathlessness, giddiness, numb limbs, aching bodies, fevers, nausea, brain damage, cancers, anxiety attacks, menstrual chaos, depression and mental illness. Thirty people still die every month from the effects of the gas.


They are still being poisoned


Meanwhile the the drinking water of the very same communities that were hit in 1984 is being poisoned by cancer- and birth-defect causing chemicals that lie in the open in the derelict factory, or were dumped on waste ground by the company for up to ten years after the disaster. Greenpeace found mercury at levels up to 6 million times what could have been predicted. Dow-Carbide has refused to appear to answer charges before an Indian court.

Why we are on hunger strike

On 17 July the Indian government applied to reduce charges against Warren Anderson, the CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster - the same man who has been refusing to answer the court’s summons for 11 years. Why has it done this? Because Carbide is now owned by Dow and Dow is a fabulously rich corporation with important interests and powerful friends in India.

The court’s judgement will be given on 27 August. If the charges are diluted it will reduce the deaths of 20,000 people and the 18 years’ suffering of the survivors to the status of a car accident and virtually end hopes of ever getting just compensation for the victims.


We have until 27August to force the Indian Government to withdraw its shameful application.

Please use this site to its fullest to join in the many actions that are possible and to add your voice to our call for Justice in Bhopal.