Mangaluru, Dec 22, 2018: The fertile and ecologically fragile Mangaluru should not be allowed to become another Bhopal, said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA), on Dec 21, Friday.
“There are similarities between the Bhopal gas tragedy and what is happening at Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL),” activist Satinath Sarangi observed while addressing a gathering at the Janaagraha meet’ organised to oppose the MRPL’s fourth phase expansion plans near DC office.
The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident on the night of December 2 and 3, 1984, at the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas. The highly toxic substance made its way into and around the small towns located near the plant.
“I see a similar situation in Mangaluru. I have interacted with people residing in villages on the MRPL’s periphery. Before arriving in Mangaluru, I was worried about MRPL. But on seeing the greenery, I am less anxious. But when told that fertile farmland is being acquired for the MRPL fourth phase expansion, my displeasure intensified,” he remarked.
“Bhopal’s people still suffer the effect of toxic gas. The factory began as a small unit in Bhopal in 1970 and expanded in 1980. Residents were clueless of what was being produced in the factory. It was only after the tragedy, that the truth dawned on them,” he recalled.
Nearly 10,000 people died and over 5 lakh people were affected by the MIC leak. Even today nearly 1.5 to two lakh people suffer from different ailments. The scars of the gas leak are seen even in the second generation. The compensation given by the government to help them rebuild their lives made them alcoholics,” he added.
“So, the day Mangaluru becomes another Bhopal is not far off. The lessons from the past should be learnt to prevent an outbreak of fresh disasters,” he stressed. Karavali Karnataka Janabhivruddhi Vedike president T R Bhat was present.
Safety award : The National Safety Council which awarded Union Carbide of Bhopal has presented the same awards to MRPL twice. “Political parties and scientists are both working in favour of the company,” he rued.