“Modern Technology has posed an eminent danger to the very existence of human race on earth and of other living beings”. Discuss the fact in reference to Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
Modern technology has a great impact on human life. With the advancement in technology, human life is more comfortable like never before. There is almost no place that we can go where technology hasn’t been used. Technology affects our daily lives in everything that we do. It saves time and creates a world of endless learning and makes traveling to halfway around the world effortless. The human race has indeed gone far with technology. From the age when he still used wooden and stone tools to a powerful era of silicon and steel, he ceased to be a helpless prey to a number of predators to become a god among beasts. And now, technology and human way of life have somewhat become inseparable. Everywhere we look, we see its manifestations-from the largest aircraft to the smallest microcomputer chip. Some even cannot do without their gadgets beside them.
Effects on Human Race
Technology has become a beast of burden of our time-doing things we usually do in the past, like an able servant at his master’s side, ready to help him whenever need arises. Technology has been introduced for the betterment of human life so that human can easily access their work. But sometimes we have forgotten that it has disadvantages too. We have failed to utilize the benefits. Technology has been introduced so that we can face the new challenges. The effect of technology on our surroundings is the complete reflection of our values. We cannot deny the fact that it has brought radical changes to our lives and society but yet we have to be very concern that what our society demand as well as our culture. We cannot just let this technology to create deviation among us. We cannot lose our heritage as well. Human beings have created technology, technology didn’t create human beings.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Late night of December 2 & 3, 1984 Bhopal, one of the biggest gas tragedy in the world. It occurs at Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 40% people and as well as animals were got trapped in this disaster and given long lasting environment disaster around effected area. From the government survey more than 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanite gas and other chemicals. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3900 deaths within 3 weeks. This was a huge environmental disaster. The world was shocked for the first time because of modern technology’s aggression. With the technological development as well, this disaster took paid the price of a huge amount of people.
Technological Reasons Behind The Tragedy
There were several reasons for the tragedy. Management and operations failure was accused to be the major reason but here I will discuss about the technological failures that caused this tragedy.
§ Design and the process factors: The plant design including the safety systems were not properly constructed. Designs that have been made were illegible to face the consequences. It was not similar to the way the parent company were located at the West Virginia, US.
§ Root Causes: The location of UCIL plant was too close to the heavily populated area. Basically, this settlement was illegal but the India government gave squatter right to the company in 1984. Besides, there was no initiatives taken regarding the repair of flare tower system and the scrubber system was in stand-by mode. Moreover, the refrigeration system which was used for cooling was removed.
§ Scarcity of the safety precautions: There were scarcity for the safety for the workers. Some of them were not properly trained as well. Most of the employees were uneducated and the authority was not concerned about their lives. The workers had lack of knowledge regarding chemical substances and their harmful effects. Besides, most of the employees worked without any safety precautions like wearing masks etc. The management preferred unskilled employees more than skilled ones.
§ Lack of storage systems for MIC: Instead of using a “closed loop” process where MIC was converted as soon as it was manufactured, UCC applied for large storage for MIC, consists of three horizontally mounted stainless steel tanks. Besides there were only two tanks that were used to store the gases which can be uploaded for 30 days of the considering only 90 tons of the gases and the other one was for the spare gases. But the manual system suggests that one tank should be always empty and it should not be completed for more than 60% percent of the capacity because it can’t absorb the heat.
§ The Alarming System was not appropriate: The alarming system they had used wasn’t sufficient for all the workers. The warning alarm that was used during the accident was supposed to sound for long but it didn’t ring that much. As a result people were unable to move form that place.
§ No Evacuation Plan: There wasn’t any evacuation plan for the community for Bhopal and most of the people were not informed even after the accident.
The After Effects Of Bhopal Gas Tragedy
The after affect of the tragedy was horrible. There was not unlimited loss of the human beings but also the nature was degrading. The health conditions of the injured people were also at stake. I will discuss some of the key affects regarding nature and environment here.
§ Health: Many of the injured people were suffering from fibrosis, bronchial asthma, and recurrent chest infection. Beside, the children that were born after this disaster born with disabilities. Moreover, many women had lost their reproduction capability after the disaster.
§ Environment and Ecology: Water pollution was found. The underground water in Bhopal was polluted by the abandoned chemicals in the factory after the disaster and it was not safe for drinking. The plant life was destructed. The atmosphere in the arena was totally polluted. The temperature was increasing rapidly.
§ Livelihoods: Over 70% of the exposed population was people earning substance wages. There was hardly any compensation for them. Most of the families had lost their only earning source. They were living in miseries and some of them died because of starvation.
§ Effects of Pyrolysed MIC: We know that chemical substances are very harmful of the nature. The accident that caused by MIC was the mixture of Carbon Monoxide, Ammonia and Hydrogen Cyananide. So when that mixed with the air it was polluted. When people started breathing it went to the blood through veins and arteries and it caused many fatal diseases. Sometimes it hampers the regular flow of blood.
§ Toxicity in the nature: The union government wasn’t aware of the differences between chronic toxicity and acute toxicity. The people that died instantly were because of acute toxicity in the nature but the people that were died later because of chronic toxicity. The plants that were used in the factory were composed of heavy metals like mercury and uranium and also with some toxic elements. There were severe consequences regarding this as it is harmful for human health as well.
The Survival of the Human Existence After The Tragedy
Life is uncertain we all know that but how cruelly anyone can lose his/her life through a disaster is nothing but the example of the tragedy of Bhopal. There were clouds of poisonous gases arises that night when that disaster happened. Fire was burning like hell. People were at stake what to do at that circumstance. Now the question arises that was profitability was more preferable than the life of the people. Still after 25 years of that tragedy no one could ever believed that what was the actual purpose of the company. The technological failure did happen that day when The MIC broke out of the storage. Not only the lack of knowledge of the workers caused the disaster but also the lack of management caused the accident. The fact remains we should know how to use the technology rather than only by adapting it blindly. People were so busy that time that couldn’t even think of that cruel disaster. The UCIL and The UCC were so busy in making profits that they ignored the massive consequence. Before the first warning that came from 1981 was serious issue but they hardly pay heed to them. Almost 15000-25000 people instantly died that night. Could they repay the loss? The human lives are so much affected by the technology that they can’t even think of anything else. Where were the expertise human beings then when it had to control the storage system and why the people were fired from the technical spot where they were actually needed for? There was lacking s in safety systems which should be controlled by strong managerial authorities but they failed to provide it. There were hardly any families regarding Bhopal were not affected by it. Most of the families’ only earning source were not even existed.
Legal Proceedings to the Settlement
“Throughout 1990, the Indian Supreme Court heard appeals against the settlement from activist petitions. In October 1991, the Supreme Court upheld the original $470 million, dismissing any other outstanding petitions that challenged the original decision. The Court ordered the Indian government to purchase, out of settlement fund, a group medical insurance policy to cover 100,000 persons who may later develop symptoms” and cover any shortfall in the settlement fund. It also requested UCC and its subsidiary UCIL voluntarily fund a hospital in Bhopal, at an estimated $17 million, to specifically treat victims of the Bhopal disaster. The company agreed to this.”
Bhopal gas tragedy was a lesson for us who believe that technology has less impact on our daily lives. The environment is degrading day by day because of pollution. To cope up with the existing pollution and to give then the livestock more and more factories have been established. People can have food then but at the same time the chemical and toxic substances are becoming the reasons biological degradation. One single technological failure can take a lot of lives. Still people who are alive are suffering from many fatal diseases. They had the opportunity to lead a better life but they had failed. Sometimes we the people are responsible for letting these happen. We are ignoring the fact that our existence on earth is not safe at all. We are negotiating since the beginning and still we are doing the same. Modern technology is only and only better if it used for the betterment for the people or otherwise it will always be a tragedy for human lives.
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