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Editorial:Wrong questions. Wrong answers

By Nityanand Jayaraman

The Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal had several lessons to teach. Unfortunately, very few of these lessons have been learnt. Why? Perhaps because of our propensity to ask the wrong questions. Questions such as: “What is the best place to dump toxic waste?” The right question for a true democracy would be: “How can we avoid generating hazardous wastes?”


20 years after: Anger and denial on the streets of Bhopal

By Suroopa Mukherjee

Twenty years after the world’s worst industrial disaster, the city of Bhopal is divided by fact and fiction, true and false claims, and an endless blame game between the survivors, struggling to keep the issue alive, and the decision--makers and bureaucrats, who are trying desperately to forget the gas tragedy


Safe livelihoods

By Dunu Roy

The development or closure of industry is generally based on the premise that industry must be isolated from other human activities. Not only does this throw workers out of jobs, it does nothing to control pollution, because every relocated hazardous unit will simply continue to pollute elsewhere. It would be better to promote industry that protects both livelihoods as well as environment


Victims twice over

By Dilip D'Souza

Contaminated water is just one of the problems that the gas victims of Bhopal have to face. There's also the continued apathy about their compensation, the continuing struggle for medical treatment, and the reluctance of Dow Chemical (Carbide's new owners) to clean up around the old plant


Can a Bhopal happen again?

By Rakesh Kalshian

This investigation of the toxic hotspots in just one Indian city, Delhi, reveals that the disaster management plan for even the capital remains largely on paper. Delhi alone has 1,777 industries generating hazardous wastes, but no chemical hazards map. Tilak Bazaar, Asia's largest chemical market, is in the heart of Chandni Chowk. It's a tinderbox waiting to explode


The law 20 years after: Significant absences

By Usha Ramanathan

Bhopal brought to attention the absences in the law on industrial disasters. There was no way to extract vital information from the industry, no provision for interim relief, and no clarity on how to deal with an offending corporation. Since 1984, statutory law has moved, grudgingly, some distance, but it is in the courts that the law has been largely played out. Are the wrongs inflicted on victims by the system finally gaining recognition?


The health effects of industrial pollution: A primer

By Dr Arin Basu

Industrial activities are a major source of air, water and land pollution, leading to illness and loss of life all over the world. Pollution is a slow, continuous process. Some illnesses take 20 years to manifest


Bearing the body burden: Environmental toxins and women's health

By Laxmi Murthy

Women's physiology and role in society make them bear the brunt of environmental toxins. There has been an alarming rise in endometriosis and cancers amongst women worldwide. A major source of the problem could literally be in the air


REACH: Chemicals under the microscope

By Shailendra Yashwant

The world is facing a mounting chemical crisis. REACH, a pioneering European Union initiative, will close the information gap on the world's most dangerous chemicals and make industry accountable for the safety of its products


6,000 kilometres on the toxic trail

By Nina Subramani

A filmmaker's notes and observations as she travels through seven states of India, from the chemical factories of Eloor in Kerala to dust hills and ash ponds in Orissa, and the uranium mines of Jadugoda in Jharkhand. Everywhere her camera encounters crippled children, sick adults, filthy water, foul air and dead lands.


Keeping Bhopal in the public eye

By Satinath Sarangi

Satinath Sarangi arrived in Bhopal two days after the gas leak 20 years ago. He has been there since, helping in the fight for the legal claims of survivors, in the mobilisation of communities, volunteers and international donors, and the provision of medical support. In this interview he explains why it is important to keep reminding the world that Bhopal happened


A history of hazards

By Freny Manecksha

Although there has been no tragedy on the scale of Bhopal in the last two decades, there have been innumerable gas leaks, explosions and accidents.


Burnt paddy and dead fish

By Manipadma Jena

Five years ago the fishermen of Kharnasi, near the Oswal fertiliser plant in Orissa used to catch 10 quintals of hilsa fish per trip. Now, the catch is down to a quarter of that. 50% of the fishermen have stopped taking their boats out. Following a gas leak, 3,500 hectares of paddy turned yellow overnight. This report shows the extent to which livelihoods are being eroded by industrial pollution


Hold your breath: You're in SIPCOT, Cuddalore

By Nityanand Jayaraman

Chemical odours are an indicator of serious chemical pollution. If you can smell it, the chemicals may already be above safe levels. At the SIPCOT chemical industrial estate in Cuddalore, one of the smelliest places on earth, villagers have formed their own environmental monitoring committee and have quantifiably established that they are being gassed on a daily basis


Lethal wastes

By Madhumita Dutta

Around 0.7 million tonnes of asbestos waste from an abandoned mine are poisoning the land, water and vegetation around the Roro Hills of Jharkhand. In 20 years, no state authority has assessed the impact of the waste on the 5,000-strong tribal community that lives within a 5-km radius


'Hema Chemicals has left its mark on everything'

By Freny Manecksha

Several former employees of Hema Chemicals in Vadodara, Gujarat, whose health suffered from constant exposure to chromium and other chemicals, continue to wage a legal battle against an industry that has exploited its workers and violated labour and environmental laws, endangering not just the workers' lives but that of an entire community


Burn-and-dump in Kerala

By Surendranath C

Three years ago Grasim Industry's polluting unit in Mavoor, Kerala, was closed down following public pressure. What is the significance of this victory in a state that continues to adopt a burn-and-dump attitude to hazardous wastes? And why is it that despite several Supreme Court orders, nothing has changed in Kerala's Eloor industrial area, one of 35 global toxic hotspots?