The Vizag Gas Leak Brings Back Haunting Memories of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Social Commentary

The Vizag Gas Leak Brings Back Haunting Memories of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

As India continues its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, another tragedy has struck the country. Thirteen people have died so far, and over 1,000 have fallen sick in Vishakhapatnam after a gas leak occurred at LG Polymers Plant between 2.30 am and 3 am and reportedly spread over a radius of three kilometres. The gas leak has affected at least five villages, including R.R. Venkatapuram, Padmapuram, B.C. Colony and Kamparapalem.

The shocking visuals that emerged out of the area reminded people of the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984. Along with #VizagGasLeak, #BhopalGasTragedy also started to trend in India within minutes. The judiciary had failed to punish the perpetrators of that tragedy. “When your justice, law & regulatory systems are a joke, then this is what happens,” pointed out Abhijit Iyer-Mitra.

A villager recalling the incident said, “When we tried to run outside, we realised that the mist like chemical had engulfed the entire area. People were running around not knowing what to do and where to go. People were collapsing as they were walking.”

Several people, including children were shifted to hospitals following the gas leak. People who were affected complained of burning sensation and in the eyes and breathing difficulties. “As of now, the gas leakage has stopped but a lot of people have been hospitalised and are in a semi-conscious state. Many of them are facing breathing problems, skin irritation,” said SN Pradhan, DG, National Disaster Relief Force.

A massive evacuation process is underway by the NDRF teams. A total of 27 people are involved in the relief and rescue operation, and they happen to be experts in dealing with industrial leakage. “Styrene is a common chemical used in the plastic industry. But if the quantities of consumption are very high and the proximity is intense, then it can be lethal. We are doing house-to-house evacuation,” SN Pradhan added.

Andhra CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy announced that he will leave for Vizag and visit King George Hospital where the affected are being treated. Prime Minister Modi also spoke to the chief minister and assured all help and support.

“Company managing this has to be responsible for the Vizag gas leak mishap. They’ll have to come & explain to us exactly what all protocols were followed, and what all were not followed. Accordingly, criminal action will be taken against them,” said Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister MG Reddy.

Messages of condolence and grief poured in for the victims of the tragedy, with a loud request that history must not repeat itself and the perpetrators must be brought to justice, unlike in Bhopal.