The year was 1969. The American company Union Carbide set up a giant pesticide manufacturing plant in Bhopal. They were excited about selling their pesticides to millions of Indian farmers.
Soon it employed a large workforce and settlements/shanty towns came up around the factory.
In 1979 a plant for producing Methyl Isocyanate (required for ‘SEVIN’) was added.
Then things started going wrong. Due to falling crops the sale of pesticides went down. This led to massive layoffs at the Bhopal plant as well as scaling back of the saftey systems. Systems which were critical since the plant used toxic substances like Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) and Phosgene.
Early morning of the 3rd of December, !984 all the pieces of the puzzle came together and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy took place. Till date it is the biggest industrial disaster taking approximately 8,000 lives within few weeks.
Obviously the people responsible for it and the ‘big fish’ got away. Their ‘gift’ left behind a poisoned land. The main reason for this was improper technology transfer. The workers at the plant were never told that water could enter the MIC tank and make the chemical unstable.
Now, the year is 2008.
The Americans are offering another gift. That of nuclear technology. Possibly looking to increase the use of nuclear power in India which leaves behind radioactive waste. Much more harmful than Methyl Isocyanate. What do we do with this gift?
Should we get ready for a bigger disaster? Will we be left hanging in the middle?
The only option is to keep it in our hands. To take it forward on our own. Control should always remain with Indians. So that never in the future do we curse the ‘gifts’ we have received.