Disabled Children of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

On the night of December 2-3, 1984, approximately 40 tons of the toxic gas methylisocyanate (MIC) spewed from a factory owned by the U.S. chemical giant Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), in Bhopal, a city in the heartland of India. Blown by the wind, the gas covered an area of some 40 square kilometers. The entire population of old Bhopal was affected, pregnant women miscarried as they ran, children died in their parents’ arms. The hospitals were overwhelmed by the dead and dying for days after.

"That night" ultimately ended, but years of death and suffering had just begun.

The gas tragedy wasn’t enough warning for Union Carbide and the Indian government. They remained indifferent about a secret second disaster from the factory: the toxic wastes from the factory site had been piped into three huge ‘solar evaporation ponds’ and were slowly leaking into the soil and the groundwater. This poisoned groundwater is what families were pumping out every day for washing, cooking, and drinking.

Now, in 2019, there are second and third generation children from the survivors who escaped with their lives. Children are being born with a range of disabilities not seen anywhere else in India. Cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy (MD), Down’s syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blindness, learning difficulties, and Gross motor delay are common and many of the children, now young adults, have multiple conditions. In this project, grantee Rohit Jain reports on the ongoing legacy of the Bhopal disaster.