30 Years Later: Still Fighting for Victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy

December 3, 2014

On the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak that killed 20,000 and injured more than 150,000 in Bhopal, India, we are spotlighting 2004 Goldman Prize winners Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, who led a class action suit demanding cleanup and compensation for affected individuals.

Devi Shukla lost her husband and three sons on the night of the accident, and her daughter has given birth to two children with developmental abnormalities. Bee lost her sister and three nieces due to respiratory illnesses resulting from the accident.

In the ten years since winning the Goldman Prize for their work, Bee and Shukla have continued their campaign to care for and secure the rights of the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Shortly after winning the Prize, Bee and Shukla used their award money to create the Chingari Trust, a non-profit clinic that tends to the physical, mental and emotional needs of the children of Bhopal survivors, many of whom were born with developmental problems such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

Bee and Devi Shukla are featured in The Independent article “Bhopal 30 years on: The women of India are battling the poisonous legacy of the world’s worst industrial accident,” which sums up the disaster:

“The rate of disability is high due to the presence of the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide factory just down the road: 30 years ago, on the night of 2 December 1984, it exploded, spewing out up to 42 tons of methyl isocyanate. The poison cloud swallowed up the slums that lay across the road, crept through windows and doorways, and brought death, panic – and three decades of suffering.”

At their rehabilitation center, the Chingari Trust provides medical and psychological care that includes a supplementary nutrition/food program, physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education and psychological support and counselling.

For more information on the work of the Chingari Trust, please visit their website by clicking HERE.

Photo: 2004 Goldman Prize winners Champa Devi Shukla and Rashida Bee