CULTURE

The Bhopal disaster, 24 years on

What is absolutely astonishing when it comes to the Bhopal disaster in India are not the actual figures (the disaster left 25,000 dead and 120,000 suffering from long-term illnesses as well as 22 years of legal battles in the United States and India) or the pain and the desperation when faced with Union Carbide’s monstrous deceit and criminal indifference, but the fact that 24 years after the greatest industrial disaster that ever took place, when toxic gas was released by a Union Carbide subsidiary pesticide plant over the Indian city, no one has actually come forward to take responsibility and the entire case is vanishing through endless long-term litigation. In his documentary «Mystika kai psemata» («Secrets and Lies, »currently being screened at the Zina Alpha Odeon cinema in Athens) Stavros Stagos re-enacts the story in a clear and thorough manner. Based on journalistic research and filmed in India, the United States and Britain, the director showcases rich archival material and live interviews, displaying, above all, great sensibility in the organization and narration of events. Stagos refers to the industrial disaster almost as a death foretold – make that thousands of deaths. Given the gradual deterioration of the Union Carbide factory’s security systems, the chances of such an accident occurring were more than evident – something that only such a huge multinational company could ignore. A multinational to which children, senior citizens, livestock, vegetation and the environment didn’t count more than saving 50 dollars a day. The developing – meaning Third – world is simply suffering the consequences of this singular transaction. Who cares about chemical terror when it comes to increasing profits?