Bhopal gas leak activist awarded
New Delhi: He gave up a promising engineering career in metallurgy to tend to the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. Satinath Sarangi's tireless crusade for the past 26 years has been given recognition by a popular news magazine through an award.
Sarangi was presented the award by Minister of Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid here on Friday.
Sarangi is the 31st recipient of the 'The Week Man of the Year Award' which is presented every year by the news magazine. On two occasions in the last 28 years, married couples have also received the honour.
Speaking about Sarangi's accomplishment Friday, the magazine's associate editor Sachidanand Murthy said: "He worked tirelessly and ceaselessly and took on the might of a multi-national company as well as the insensitivity of the Indian government. With his conviction he has brought respite to many."
The 1984 tragedy occurred when a toxic leak from the Union Carbide Corporation's now defunct pesticide plant in the Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal killed and maimed thousands of people on the intervening night of December 2-3.
Praising Sarangi's efforts and willpower, Khurshid said there was obvious bitterness and anger among the victims and he was doing an exceptional job of soothing them.
"You could not have chosen a better person than him to honour... the victims are still angry and he must be praised for his efforts," said Khurshid.
According to Sarangi, who has been living and working tirelessly for the victims, Bhopal is not only a commitment but a microcosm of what goes on in the world.
"What happened in Bhopal is now happening all around the world, the slow poisoning of our environment by corporates. But sadly we are not noticing it just because it is happening gradually," said Sarangi.
The activist was exasperated with the way people have submitted to the will of the corporates who are minting money at the cost of innocent lives.
"These are corporate crimes planned in board rooms and executed on innocents. The Bhopal tragedy showed us how our system works to maximize profits. A plant was built near a densely populated area to attract workers and adequate safety measures were not taken," he said.
The corporates are just interested in earning profits and they do not care about the environment. This is the reason behind the surge in number of patients suffering from various diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and lowering sperm count in males etc., Sarangi added.