ibnlive » India

Dec 03, 2009 at 03:21pm IST

For Bhopal gas victims life's still a tragedy

Bhopal: Even 25 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy people are bearing the brunt of the deadly methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leak from the Union Carbide factory on December 3, 1984.

Organisations working with children say that they have Bhopal have 10 times higher chance of being born with birth defects compared to children in any other part of India.

Meenakshi is six years old, but could pass off as a toddler as she can barely speak. She is even unable to tell her mother when she wants to use the bathroom or when she's hungry.. She can't walk either.

Her mother Saurambai and her husband live in Oriya Basti, about two kms from the Union Carbide factory.

On the night of December 2 in 1984 when 42 tonnes of methyl isocyanite gas leaked from the factory, Saurambai and her husband were treated for gas poisioning.

Decades later they cannot understand why their daughter is paying the price.

"I don't know why this has happened. I can't understand what the doctors tell me," Saurambai says.

For six-year-old Isnia rigorous physiotherapy is a way of life. His mother still hopes that some day he may walk like other children.

"I don't know why this has happened. I am told its because my husband and I inhaled the gas. The doctors don't say anything either," says Isnia's mother Rajni Saher.

Fifty-four year old Rasheeda Bi runs a rehabilitation centre in Bhopal for children. She understands why this is happening.

"The gas tragedy is playing out in many ways even years after it happened. As the parents were poisoned, children are being born with multiple defects right from cerebral palsy to stunted growth, to all kinds of defects," says Rasheeda.

Rasheeda has lost count of the number of children they treat daily. When 14-year-old Suraj, who suffers from a speech disorder and is unable to walk, started making sounds last year, his mother Kesarbai was actually grateful.

"Now he is able to tell me when he wants to eat food and go to the bathroom. I see improvement happening," says Kesarbai.

Studies done by various organisations working with gas victims say that children in Bhopal have a 10 times higher chance of being born with birth defects compared to other children in India.

Others like Mamta and Geeta, both 20 year olds, who grew up drinking water contaminated by chemicals dumped by Union Carbide, listening to taunts and being ridiculed has become a way of life.

"I dropped out of school because people made fun of me," says Geeta.

For many it is a life that's barely human. What's worse, outside, no one is listening.