The probability of a baby being born with congenital anomalies is
seven times higher in areas of Bhopal affected by the 1984 gas
tragedy, doctors said here Sunday. The effect is evident even in
the third generation.
Tonnes of lethal gas leaked from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL)
pesticides plant killing and maiming thousands in the Madhya
Pradesh capital on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984.
As many as 3,000 new-born children are either mentally or
physically challenged and in many cases both, said Jyotirmay
Samaddar, a doctor from the city who has been working for the last
20 years with the victims of the world's worst industrial
Moreover, in many cases the abnormalities are unique and vastly
different from the existing ones, say doctors.
"While the effects of the disaster were visible in the second
generation, it is now increasingly becoming evident even in the
third generation with a large percentage of children being born
with congenital anomalies," Samaddar told reporters.
"We have surveyed around 20,000 families from the affected areas
and found that almost 3,000 children have been born with serious
deformities and a majority of them suffer from multiple
deformities," said Samaddar.
Samaddar also said that the ground water of the area had been
steadily contaminated much before the disaster that struck on the
night of Dec 2-3, 1984.
"Even since the plant was established in 1969, it had been
releasing toxic wastes into the environment which gradually
permeated below the soil and contaminated ground water. The high
rate of children with deformities is a collective result of
poisonous water and air," added Samaddar.
Bhopal-based doctor Devendra Panchal, who too has been treating
the victims over the years, said that in many cases the
abnormalities were vastly different from known and existing
Both Panchal and Samaddar, who are here along with seven Bhopal
gas victims, emphasised the need for a study to have more
knowledge about the disorders.
Talking about a nine-year-old girl Ganga, who is both physically
and mentally challenged, Panchal said: "Initially we all thought
that she suffers from cerebral palsy. But her disorder, though
similar to the disease, is different in many ways."
Ganga can neither walk nor talk and only groans to communicate.
However, her thousand watt smile attracted photo journalists at
the programme, and they vied with one another for her attention.
"Ganga's mother died while giving birth to her and the father
abandoned her after learning about her deformity. I have been
running from pillar to post seeking help but I have not given up
hope. The government one day will surely come to our help," said
her grandmother Ram Kali.