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Bhopal Gas Tragedy – World’s Worst Industrial Disaster

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December 2 marks the completion of 37 years since the Bhopal Gas Tragedy occurred. It has been recorded as the world’s worst industrial disaster that took the lives of thousands of people. 

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy took place on December 2, 1984. In India, December 2, is observed as National Pollution Control Day. It pays condolence to the people who lost their lives in this tragic incident. 

What Was The Bhopal Gas Tragedy?

On the night of December 2, 1984, Chemical Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) leaked from Union Carbide India’s Ltd’s (UCIL’s) pesticide factory. This converted Bhopal into a colossal gas chamber. It took the lives of many and this was the first severe industrial disaster India observed. 

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Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Around 30 tonnes of this harmful gas took the lives of more than 15000 people and adversely affected 600000 workers. Bhopal Gas Tragedy has been recorded as the most severe industrial disaster all over the world to date. 

How Did This Harmful Gas Leak Into The Atmosphere?

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Gas Leak in Bhopal Gas Tragedy

UCIL Bhopal facility kept three 68000 litre, MIC storage tanks( liquid)- E619, E611, E610. Before this tragedy took place, the production of MIC was going on and was being filled into tanks. Tanks were prohibited from being filled over 50% of their capacity and were pressurized with inert nitrogen gas. The E610 tank lost its ability to hold nitrogen gas pressure and thus MIC liquid could not be pumped out of it. 

As per the guidelines, tanks were not prohibited to be filled beyond 30 tonnes of capacity but this tank contained 42 tonnes of gas. The plant was shut for maintenance. Later another effort was made in order to make sure that the defective tank was functional again. But the attempt failed on December 1. On December 2, water had entered the tank which gave rise to a strong chemical reaction increasing pressure in the tank. The workers in MIC felt the effects of the gas. They decided to make an announcement of this leak but by then it reached a critical stage. Tonnes of MIC gas leaked into the atmosphere. The residents realized this as they felt the gas while breathing. 

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Impact Of This Gas

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Child died from gas exposure, Bhopal Gas Tragedy 1984

Around 15000 lives were lost and many were left injured. This gas leak affected animals and trees in the vicinity too. Doctors were unaware of proper treatment. The surrounding land was left barren. People ran on streets out of breathlessness, vomited and many were found dead. Carcasses of animals were found. The city ran short of crematoriums. 

Government’s Reaction

The Indian government had never dealt with such a severe industrial disaster before. The Supreme Court of India laid down guidelines so as to provide the families of the victims with cash and life security. The UCC offered 5 million to India but India turned it down demanding 3.3 billion.

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Harmful Reactions On People

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Aftermaths of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Side effects like ulcers, blindness, impaired audio and vision, genetic issues, anorexia, abdominal pain and more were seen in people and in forthcoming generations. 


This has been the worst industrial disaster the world has seen to date. To date, the health care system is not up to the mark. Petitions have been made to destroy the plant’s poisonous remains. Today marks 37 years to this tragic event- the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

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