Bhopal is not yet at peace.
Almost three decades have passed since the 1984 gas disaster, caused by the American corporation Union Carbide, (now DOW Chemical) but many families are still trapped in a dreadful nightmare that began on that distant night.
Half a million people were exposed to the toxic cloud released from the plant, while all safety mechanisms failed to work.
Thousands died within a few weeks from exposure.
Its poisonous legacy is not only affecting the health of those who survived, but also the wellbeing of their children, many of whom are suffering from severe neurological and physical disorders. Left buried in various spots around the abandoned industrial complex, the toxic waste of Union Carbide is relentlessly penetrating the area’s underground water reservoirs, and contaminating the people living nearby.
Since the 2001 acquisition of Union Carbide by DOW Chemical, for a staggering 11.6 billions USD, the American corporation has single-handedly refused to accept any responsibility.
An on-going lawsuit against DOW Chemical in the USA – sponsored by The Bhopal Medical Appeal and other groups of ‘gas survivors’, is still pending before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, USA.
It seeks damages for injury, medical monitoring, and for the clean-up of water and soil.
Almost ironically, while defending itself in court, DOW Chemical has recently been awarded a ten-year contract as a worldwide Olympic partner, and as the official chemistry company for the Olympic Movement from 2010 to 2020.
While documenting the on-going health crisis in Bhopal, I strived to portray my subjects with intimacy, meaning and depth.
I aimed to present images that would convey emotions, and stimulate our deepest and most innate feelings: our senses compassion, brotherhood and justice, in the hope of becoming an active catalyst for the promotion of awareness, action and change for the people of Bhopal.
I struggled to understand - and ‘feel’ - the sorrow of ill, disabled children, after meeting them along with their families. I then allowed it to guide me when it was time for expression.
In a place where one can find such despair, we must also search for hope and inspiration; where we witness sadness, there must also be moments of joy. This is why, in the set I am presenting, I chose to include a few frames simply celebrating life.
In Bhopal, I have met many kind, genuine and welcoming individuals who hold life dear to their heart, and only wish for a better future. They too have inspired me to continue returning to this city, and informing the world about the neverending injustice bestowed upon its people.