Bhopal Gas Tragedy | IAS Target IAS Target

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

30 Nov 2021

Category : Social justice

Topic: Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Context: 1984, Bhopal disaster in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, chemical leak.

At that time, it was called the worst industrial accident in history. On December 3, 1984, approximately 45 tonnes of dangerous gas Methyl Isocyanate escaped from the pesticide factory of the Indian subsidiary of American Union Carbide Corporation. Gas drifted in a densely populated area around the factory, killing thousands immediately and causing panic when tens of thousands tried to flee Bhopal. The final death toll was estimated at 15,000 to 20,000. Approximately 500,000 survivors suffered from breathing problems, eye irritation and blindness, and other illnesses resulting from exposure to toxic gases. Many were awarded hundreds of dollars as compensation. Subsequent investigations revealed that inadequate operation and safety procedures in understaffed plants led to the deadly disaster.
Despite ongoing protests and legal proceedings, neither Dow Chemical, which acquired Union Carbide Corporation in 2001 nor the Government of India, was properly cleaning the site. Soil and water pollution in the region has been criticized for its chronic health problems. The Supreme Court ordered that the residents of Bhopal in 2004 be supplied safe drinking water because the groundwater was contaminated. In 2010, several former executives of Union Carbide's Indian subsidiary were convicted by a Bhopal court for negligence in a disaster. Bhopal disaster protesters Survivors of a fatal industrial accident in Bhopal, India, in 1984 protested the government's response to the disaster in New Delhi in 2014. The 1984 Bhopal disaster accidentally released methyl isocyanate at the Union Carbide Pesticide Plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, killing at least 3,000 people immediately and ultimately, an estimated 15,000 to 25,000 people were injured in the next quarter. Similarly, in the Chernobyl accident, a large amount of radioactive material was released into the atmosphere after the explosion. The Bhopal disaster killed 15,000 people.

Bhopal: History

Bhopal Gas Tragedy was the most detrimental industrial accident site in history. About 45 tonnes of dangerous gas, methyl isocyanate, escaped from the pesticide plant of the Indian subsidiary of American Union Carbide Corporation. Gas drifted in a densely populated area around the plant and died.

Field of activity:

Chemical industry R & D Battery Atomic bomb Petrochemical Related person: Frederick Mark Beckett Union Carbide Corporation, a leading US manufacturer of chemicals, petrochemicals, and related products. In 2001, it became a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company.
The company was founded in 1917 as Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation and acquired four companies: Linde Air Products Company (established in 1907), National Carbon Company (1899), Presto Light Company, Inc. (1913), and Union Carbide Company (1898). It was named Union Carbide Corporation in 1957. Founded during the War, the company immediately began manufacturing a wide variety of new products, supplying the US military with helium, Ferro-zirconium, and activated carbon, thereby paving the way for the company's future. It was one of the first companies to use market research to discover potential consumer needs and develop products that meet them. Early products of this type included the first Prestone antifreeze (introduced in 1927) and the first battery for Eveready brand portable radios (introduced in 1959).
World War II expanded the company's R & D activities. Union Carbide was instrumental in the development of the first nuclear bomb. Union Carbide was already a pioneer in the manufacture of petrochemicals. In addition, plastics, industrial gas, metals, carbon products, electronic products and medical products were manufactured. However, between 1986 and 1987, many household and automotive products were sold (batteries, waxes, and antifreeze).


  • The accident killed at least 2,000 people at the time when methyl isocyanate leaked from the plant and spread to densely populated areas.
  • The accident caused an estimated 15,000 to up to 20,000 deaths. Thousands more were injured for life.
  • A lawsuit for damages was filed against the company, and in 1989 the Supreme Court of India sentenced Union Carbide to pay the victim $470 million in damages.
  • After the merger with Dow, Union Carbide continued to be a leading manufacturer of chemicals and polymers used in various industrial and consumer products such as paints, solvents, antifreeze and coatings.