Bhopal’s Legacy


On the night of December 2, 1984, a pesticide factory owned by the U.S. multinational Union Carbide Corp accidentally leaked cyanide gas into the air, killing thousands of largely poor Indians in the central city of Bhopal.

Thirty years later, the toxic legacy of this factory lives on, say human rights groups, as thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste remains buried underground.


Beyond the iron gates of the derelict pesticide plant where one of the world’s worst industrial disasters occurred, administrative buildings lie in ruins, vegetation overgrown and warehouses bolted.

Massive vessels, interconnected by a multitude of corroded pipes that once carried chemical slurries, have rusted beyond repair.


Five-year-old Saagar, pictured above in his mother Komal’s arms, suffers from mental and physical disabilities and receives treatment at a rehabilitation centre supported by Bhopal Medical Appeal, which says it only treats families it believes have been affected by the Union Carbide gas leak 30 years ago.

“What is most pronounced is the number of children with birth defects,” said Bhopal Medical Appeal activist Satinath Sarangi. “Children are born with conditions such as twisted limbs, brain damage, musculoskeletal disorders.”

Sarangi admitted, however that there has been no long-term epidemiological research which conclusively proves that birth defects are directly related to the drinking of the contaminated water.


100,000 people who were exposed to the gas continue to suffer today with sicknesses such as cancer, blindness, respiratory problems, immune and neurological disorders.

While those directly affected, such as 64-year-old Zafar Ahmedas, pictured above, receive free medical health care, activists say authorities have failed to support those sick from drinking the contaminated water and a second generation of children born with birth defects.



Zubeida Bi and her husband Salim Rehman are pictured in an undated family photograph (top). Bi is photographed alone in Bhopal this year (bottom). She says her husband died as a result of gas poisoning after the Bhopal disaster.



Lata Bai is seen with her husband Ashok Badgujjar and their four sons in an undated family photograph (top). Bai, who says her husband died as a result of gas poisoning, is seen with her four sons in Bhopal this year (bottom).



Ram Chandra is pictured with his wife Prema in an undated family photograph (top), and alone in a picture taken this year (bottom). Chandra says his wife died as a result of gas poisoning.


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