On the night of 2 December 1984, toxic gases leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal. People living in the densely packed streets right next to the plant woke to find their homes filled with acrid fumes. Most fled as soon as they could but by the next morning, thousands had died. The death toll continued to rise over the following weeks. It’s not known exactly how many people died – estimates are between 5,000 and 25,000. It’s believed that around half a million people suffered permanent injury.
Click here to view a short video about the disaster produced by the Financial Times.
[The video is preceded by a short advert – please bear with this and keep watching.]
In an uncomfortable juxtaposition, the anniversary coincides with a meeting this week of the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. The great and the good will be coming together in Geneva to discuss ‘Advancing business and human rights globally: alignment, adherence and accountability’
Traidcraft’s policy adviser Fiona Gooch is in Geneva to press our concerns, particularly around accountability.
Despite legal proceedings in India and the USA, many of the victims of Bhopal have still not received adequate compensation. The factory site has not been cleaned up, and local people have highlighted ongoing concerns about pollution.
And thirty years on, companies continue to take decisions which result in the abuse of poor and vulnerable people’s rights – and get away with it.