Who was Warren Anderson?
- Anderson was CEO of Union Carbide Corporation at the time the gas leak incident took place in Bhopal.
- He faced grave criminal charges of homicide, grievous assault and killing and poisoning of animals and if convicted would have spent a lifetime in jail.
- Anderson came to India days after the accident and was charged and arrested on grounds of manslaughter but left on bail of Rs 25,000.
The Bhopal gas tragedy
- The Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in the country, considered as the world's worst industrial disaster.
- The accident took place on the night of 2-3 December 1984 at Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal.
- During the accident, copious amounts of a deadly toxin methyl isocynate (MIC) was released into the air that was borne downstream.
- Over 500,000 people were exposed to gas and other chemicals.
- Soon, the toxic substance spread in the nearby towns leading to large number of casuality(As per reports, 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas was leaked)
- Though some managed to escape the deadly fumes, but suffered life-long medical problems.
How many died?
- The official immediate death toll was 2,259.
- The Madhya Pradesh Government confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release.
- Others estimate 8,000 died within two weeks and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases.
- A Government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.
After effects of the tragedy
- Many of the common side effects are bloated faces, thinning hair or hair loss and abnormal growths.
- People are still suffering from health issues, including lung cancer and kidney and liver failure.
- Children born years after the incident are also suffering from poor health due to the effects the leak had on their mothers.
- Many children suffer from stunted physical and mental growth.
- A study has proven that the site continues to slowly poison the drinking water used by thousands of locals.
Reasons for the accident
- The cause of the disaster still remain under debate.
- The local activists argue that lack of management and deferred maintenance led to the accident.
- They say routine pipe maintenance caused a backflow of water into a MIC tank triggering the disaster.
- While, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) contends water entered the tank through an act of sabotage.
The political conspiracy
- Anderson was left on bail of Rs 25,000 by then Government.
- He was reportedly flown out of India on a private plane arranged by Congress leader Arjun Singh, then the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.
- Anderson never returned to India and was declared as fugitive by Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal in 1992.
- The Indian Government tried to get him extradited to India a number of times but to no avail.
- The US and Indian Governments both insisted that Anderson was missing and could not be traced.
- In September 2002, activists working on behalf of Bhopal gas victims found Anderson living with his wife in a $900,000 house in New York.
How much Union agreed to pay?
- In 1989, Union Carbide paid $470 million to the Indian Government to settle litigation stemming from the disaster.
- The amount was dismissed by victims as it was little given the magnitude of the tragedy.