Government Eyewash ?
So far the Indian State has done little beyond the ritual exercises to remember Bhopal or apply its lessons to avoid similar disasters. The recent years have exposed its collusion with the guilty corporation, and demonstrated its absolute failure in bringing relief and justice to the survivors.
The government has shown little regard for survivors’ long-standing demand for a national day of remembrance. It was only in 2011 that a chapter on the Bhopal disaster was included in the school curriculum textbook.
The demand for building a memorial started immediately after the disaster, echoed by members of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly at different points of time. In 1987 it was proposed that the state memorial be built at Idgah hills. No concrete action followed in this direction. In 1996, it was suggested that the memorial be located within the Union Carbide factory premises. The decision to build a memorial was finally taken by the state government on 1st Dec 2004. The state government submitted a proposal to the government for India for construction of a memorial at a cost of Rs. 70 crore in December, 2005. The Planning commission approved a one-time additional central assistance of Rs 10 crore to be provided during 2006-07 to the MP government.
What should a memorial on the world’s worst industrial disaster look like? The Indian government’s Ministry of Tourism first planned a National Amusement Park at the Union Carbide factory. When survivors opposed the move, the government pursued other options for disaster tourism.
In 2005, MP Goverrment organised a nationwide competition for the design of the memorial, and a New Delhi-based architect firm called Space Matters won the contract to build the memorial complex and give a complete makeover to the factory site. This involved opening the contaminated site for public on the 25th anniversary without proper clean up.
Survivors resist government’s attempts at symbolically sanitizing the contaminated Carbide factory site. They say government has no moral right to build the memorial, and decided to set up their own people’s museum to demonstrate the kind of museum they want to have.
The Remember Bhopal Museum was inaugurated on 2nd Dec 2014 marking the 30th Anniversary of the disaster.