BP DeepHorizon Oil Spill v/s Bhopal Tragedy

We have been closely following BP Gulf of Mexico Oil spill ever since it happened.I had then shared my thought

” I am wondering whether the world would have reacted the same proactive way,if the same oil spill had happened not in US,but in some thrid world developing country.If not in US, a rich country,would BP have spent this much amount of money in cleanup and law suits? If not affected in a rich country,would you and me have bothered to the same extent,about those costal flora and fauna?”[…………….]

Well,now I have the answer…

The oil spill has caused extensive damage to marine life, birds and the US coastline in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. In Bhopal, 26 years after the gas leak, the soil and the water are still contaminated, with dangerously high levels of toxic chemicals, and thousands still suffering the aftereffects.

British Petroleum has already paid 69 million dollars, just as first installment for the damages caused. That figure could multiply several times, with the company’s liability still being decided. In contrast, Union Carbide paid just $ 470 million in compensation for the deaths it caused. That’s less than $500 dollars per victim, insufficient even to cover medical treatment costs for those who survived.[..]

No,I am not trying to draw parallels between Bhopal Gas tragedy and BP Oil spill.. After all, we don’t compare apples and mangoes … What happened to us is “what can happen to any third world country”,and what happened to them is “something rare that can happen to a rich nation”. So,no comparisons please,just go through random news bits..

The Bhopal disaster or Bhopal Gas Tragedy is the world’s worst ever industrial catastrophe that occurred on the night of December 3, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. At that time, UCIL was the Indian subsidiary of the U.S. company Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), which is now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company. Around midnight on the intervening night of December 2–3, 1984, there was a leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins from the plant, resulting in the exposure of over 500,000 people. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release.Other government agencies estimate 15,000 deaths.Others estimate that 8,000 died within the first weeks and that another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases

The accident site, in the middle of Bhopal, was given back to the state government. It still has 425 tons of hazardous waste that have yet to be cleared. Union Carbide was bought by Dow Chemical Company in 2001, and activists are seeking to get Dow to clean up the site.[……….]

With regard to BP’s liability over what happened in an overseas nation,“...US companies that are operating overseas are very mindful of and respectful of the laws of any country in which they operate,” State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters here.”  Good ..Stupid Nimmy thought that Bhopal was in Inida.

US President Barack Obama has pushed British Petroleum to pay for the environmental disaster, and the company is liable to pay a fine of up to $ 4,300 per barrel. The final compensation may be in billions of dollars.

The US increased pressure on energy giant BP to boost capacity to contain the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, as President Barack Obama makes a fourth trip to the area on Monday.  On Saturday, White House adviser David Axelrod said that BP should set up an escrow account – administered by an independent panel – to pay claims by workers whose livelihoods and businesses have been impacted by the worst oil spill in US history.

“We want to make sure that the money is independently administered so that there won’t be a slow walk on these claims,” Axelrod said. “There are people there who live from week to week and whose livelihoods have been taken away from them. We want to make sure that they can get through this.“[……]

But curry-smelling Indians should be fine with flakes of compensation. But hey why criticize Firangi-company, when we ourselves are fouler than the worst..Our leaders are not even ready to visit these unfortunate people and give them that sick smile with folded hands.And the judiciary?

In February 1989, the Supreme Court announced that it was approving a settlement for Bhopal victims under which Union Carbide agreed to pay Rs 713 crore for compensation to victims, while the government agreed to drop all criminal cases against it. However, due to intense public shock and anger at letting off the culprits, the court agreed to reopen the criminal cases in 1991. Two installments of compensation — of up to Rs 25,000 each — have been given till now to the injured, one in 1994 and the next in 2004.

N D Jayaprakash of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti (BGPSSS), one of the groups fighting for the rights of gas victims, calls this a massive fraud because the number of gas-affected persons was arbitrarily fixed by the government at 105,000, including about 3,000 dead. In reality, nearly 20,000 people have died, and 5.7 lakh have suffered injuries. The compensation amount — Rs 713 crore, paid by Union Carbide — was meant for about 1 lakh persons but has been distributed among nearly 6 lakh people. Of the Rs 713 crores, Rs 113 crores was for loss of livestock and property. The balance Rs 600 crore distributed among 5.74 lakh persons works out to about Rs 12,410 per victim on average. In contrast, in the Uphaar tragedy in Delhi, families of those who died got between Rs 15 lakh to Rs 18 lakh each, while injured persons got Rs 1 lakh each. In addition, they got interest at the rate of 9% per annum for the roughly six years that the legal proceedings took.

Stung by this injustice, the victims approached the apex court, which told them to approach the state government. In Bhopal, the Welfare Commissioner rejected their demand. They appealed to the MP high court. On November 30 this year, the HC too dismissed the petition. “We will go back to the Supreme Court,” says Jayaprakash.[…………]

Tony Hayward, the BP chief executive, will be grilled about the disaster in the US on Thursday when he appears before a special Senate hearing. On Wednesday, Hayward and the BP chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, will meet the president at the White House to explain BP’s response.According to reports, Obama will tell the pair he wants BP to establish a special account to meet damage claims by individuals and businesses hurt by the spill..[…] What is it here?The people who are expected to protect us are busy and very much proactive in protecting the other side,arranging them airplanes to escape..Cool na?

US is talking about compensating within weeks,and even after 25 years,we are still busy indulging in blame-game and stuff.Before complaing about MNCs,their ethics and bla bla bla,I think its time we start working over our rotten social system.Justice delayed is justice denied..But who cares, afterall,this happened neither to kins of Gandhi family,nor to that of Ambanis or Tata’s nor to anybody in the vicinity of power structure in India.So,why worry over petty stuff that happened to petty people,isn’t it?

Related reading:


  1. Just shocked at the behaviour of our own people for handling this disaster so callously. My brother in law’s son was a baby at that time. When the news about the leak came out, they just ran to a hillock area where the air was a bit clear, with the baby. Somehow they survived and went back to Indore.

    Our politicians are after making money, in whichever way they can, without bothering about the lives of their own countrymen. We follow the western countries in so many things but not in this one.

      • Nimmy
      • June 18th, 2010

      Glad to hear that your dear ones were left unaffected…

      Politicians are people among s,they are not from another planet..so it our fault,our negligence that these people behave like this..We always blame politicians,but who created and pamper them? We the mass right?

  2. A very sad and disheartening state of affairs 😦
    What a shame to see how much injustice prevails in our societies 😦

      • Nimmy
      • June 18th, 2010

      We are the fortunate and privileged class my dear..Hardly do we come face to face with real face of indian social system…

    • sunder
    • June 14th, 2010

    Dow Chemical States, as per the take over scheme, it is not there responsibility to clean the site? …Which means the liability is still with Union Carbide….what is the legal standing of Union carbide now? is it defunct? How much union carbide got when dow took over ? Why Cant Union Carbide use this money to clear the site?

    Well regarding the comparison of BP Vs BT, it reveals the difference in our political system.
    Who is responsible for this? do we have to blame ourselves for the behaviour of our elected representatives.. our political system is not based on issue basis, but on various factors, like religion, caste, region and other trivial issues…

    by the way bhopal is a state issue and not a central issue….why should we all bother….hmmm

      • Nimmy
      • June 18th, 2010

      Yes,Bhopal is a state issue..If we don’t bother about them,who will bother about me when this happens in Kerala next time 🙂

  3. Very perfectly said sister with respective links… We cant blame them with 90% of mistakes are at our side… Our central govt is 2 joke now with all blame game and no action 😦

  4. Our government has been too relaxed in handling the entire situation and when the ruling finally did came out, it was a joke of a ruling.

      • Nimmy
      • June 18th, 2010

      True..and yes,they are making us more dumb,by these GOM and ‘more compensation’ rubbish..It was government itself ,years ago,that agreed on low compensation..

    • sm
    • June 15th, 2010

    when you are in rome be roman
    when you are in chor and corrupt nation be chor and corrupt
    that is what all the people around the world are doing it.

    very good article

      • Nimmy
      • June 18th, 2010

      Welcome here SM,thats for coming 🙂

      Well,does that mean that corruption is the way out to bring down these corrupt people?

  5. I blogged about this too Nimmy and signed any and every petition I could.
    Today I read a heartening post on Churmuri Blog Nimmy, you too will be glad to read it too, it says,


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