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25 years after Bhopal tragedy, govt to open site for public

Last updated: 13 November, 2009
Bhopal, Nov 13 (PTI) 16:43 IST

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, Madhya Pradesh government has decided to throw open for public the defunct Union Carbide factory that claimed thousands of lives following leakage of toxic gases.

The factory will remain open for a week from November 20 to mark the 25th anniversary of the tragic incident.

A decision to this effect was taken by the State government recently, official sources said here today.

State Gas Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Babulal Gaur said the government can extend days for public visits to show that there was nothing dangerous at the factory site anymore.

However, the organisations working for the gas victims have criticised the government's decision.

The State government's move is a publicity stunt to show people that the site is safe, an organisation said.

Bhopal representative for International Campaign for Justice, Rachna Dhingra, said at least ten governmental and non-governmental studies had confirmed presence of highly toxic chemicals in and around the Union Carbide factory.

At the midnight on 3 December 1984, the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal accidentally released toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, exposing over 5,00,000 people to MIC and other chemicals.

"As per a 1999-study by Greenpeace, over 20 per cent of the factory site was contaminated and mercury level at one sample location was 60 lakh times more than normal," she said.

Besides, the study also found high levels of lead, nickel, copper, chromium, chlorobenzene and sevin in soil samples taken from the factory site, Dhingra said.
She said eminent scientist and founder Director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Dr P Bhargava had warned that Union Carbide site was completely unsafe.

Dhingra said the Madhya Pradesh High Court in its order on October 29, 2005 had said the factory premises should be appropriately guarded by deputing armed guards so that no outsider enters there.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila-Purush Sangarsh Morcha leader, Syed M Irfan said the Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government were using the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy as an occasion to bury the disaster along with all the pending liabilities.

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