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Cancer affliction ten times higher in Bhopal gas tragedy survivors: Scientific study

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Sravani Sarkar

Bhopal: The people who were exposed to the lethal methyl iso-cyanate (MiC) gas on the fateful night of December 2/3, 1984 are ten times more afflicted with cancer compared to unexposed people, a latest epidemiological study shows.

The study by Bhopal-based Sambhavna Trust Clinic on over 1 lakh people has put scientific stamp on the known trend that the gas exposed people in Bhopal are more prone to serious and fatal diseases.

“The final results would soon be out, but the preliminary findings are clear that the rate of cancer in gas-exposed populace is ten times higher,” principal investigator of the study, Satinath Sarangi told

The preliminary findings also indicated that the families exposed to the MiC gas and the groundwater contaminated by toxic waste leftover by abandoned Union Carbide factory, have significantly higher number of patients of tuberculosis, paralysis and cancer.

The study was conducted on four groups of people – gas exposed (5500 families), contaminated groundwater exposed (5200 families), gas + contaminated water exposed (5000 families) and unexposed (5100 families).

It was found that lung, abdominal, throat and oral cancers were significantly higher in gas exposed as well as gas + contaminated groundwater exposed group. Liver cancer was found only in gas exposed group. 

Gas exposed women were found to have suffered significantly larger number of abortions in comparison to unexposed women. Compared to an unexposed population, significantly larger number of children born to gas exposed and contaminated ground water exposed parents had birth defects.

Sarangi said the trends would emerge more clearly in the final results, but the preliminary investigations were significant.

Apart from Sarangi, Dr Daya Verma of McGill University, Canada,  Dr  Shree Mulay from Memorial University, St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada and Dr Veeresh Gadag, Biostatistitian with the Memorial University are part of the study team. The advisor is   Swarup Sarkar, Asia Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, Geneva, Switzerland.

Medical histories, documentation and details of all the persons included in study were collected.

Survivors take out rally; reiterate demands

On eve of the 32nd Anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, hundreds of survivors marched with flaming torches to the memorial statue of the gas affected mother opposite the Union Carbide factory.

They paid homage to those killed by the disaster and reiterated their demands of adequate compensation, cleanup of toxic waste left over by Union Carbide factory and punishment for the companies responsible.

The rally was jointly conducted by five survivors’ organizations:  Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit  Pensionbhogee  Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children Against Dow / Carbide.