From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : MIC
Mains level : Bhopal Gas Tragedy
The Supreme Court has grilled the Centre on how the settlement can be reopened, when Union Carbide has already paid over $ 470 million to the Bhopal gas tragedy victims, and also expressed concern over Rs 50 crore undisbursed funds.
Why in news?
- Union Carbide, now a part of Dow Jones – has not fulfilled its responsibility in terms of providing just compensation.
- Around 19 years after compensation was agreed upon, the Indian government filed a curative petition in 2010 to seek additional compensation from Dow, of more than ten times the amount it gave in 1989.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
- On the night of December 2, 1984, one of the biggest industrial disasters to ever take place began unfolding in Bhopal.
- Harmful Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) gas started leaking from a nearby Union Carbide pesticide plant, eventually resulting in the Bhopal Gas tragedy.
- An estimated 3,000 people died within the first few days.
- Over time, similarly horrifying numbers of those who suffered life-long health issues would become known.
Health hazards of the disaster
- Its effects were such that apart from killing thousands of people in a short span of time, it led to disease and other long-term problems for many who inhaled the gas.
- The sources of water around the factory were deemed unfit for consumption and many handpumps were sealed.
- To date, the reproductive health of many of Bhopal’s women has been affected.
- Children born to those exposed to the gas have faced congenital health problems.
How did govt respond to the disaster?
The incident pointed to the lack of specific laws in India at the time for handling such matters. This changed after Bhopal.
- Environment (Protection) Act, 1986: It authorised the central government to take relevant measures and regulate industrial activity for environmental and public safety.
- Public Liability Insurance Act of 1991: It was also passed to provide public liability insurance for providing immediate relief to the persons affected by an accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance.
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