Bhopal – A Silent Picture

Foreword to Samar Jodha’s forthcoming exhibition
by Dominique Lapierre

How thrilled I am to learn that Samar S. Jodha, one of the photographers I admire the most, is offering his talent to the cause of the Bhopal tragedy! His photo-installation is a striking document which will contribute to perpetuate the memory of an apocalyptic event which has killed some thirty thousand innocent Indians and poisoned half a million others. The fact that this album comes out twenty-six years after the fateful night of the 3rd of December 1984 is of tremendous importance. Because the tragedy of Bhopal is still a tragedy.

A quarter of a century after the explosion of the tanks containing the most lethal gas ever invented by man’s diabolical imagination, Bhopal continues to kill. Women are afflicted with cancers of the cervix, children are born malformed, men and women grow breathless and blind. The killing gas has infiltrated itself into the genes of a whole new generation of victims. A curse that might perpetuate for generations to come. The explosion of the Union Carbide plant having mostly hit poor working families living in slums around the factory, those who survived have been mostly incapable to obtain the medical treatments they were entitled to, and to receive the financial compensations they were owed for the lost of their kin and the destruction of their health.

The toxic effluents left on the site of the factory after the explosion have relentlessly poisoned over the years the underground waters feeding the wells used by the survivors. On a recent trip to Bhopal I have myself drunk one glass of that water, an experience which set aflame my mouth, my throat, my oesophagus, before covering my body with a skin rash. This is the water that goes into the milk bottles of many of today’s Bhopal newborn. As of today, nobody has accepted the responsibility to dispose of these toxic effluents. Neither Dow Chemicals which now owns the former Union Carbide factory, nor the US and Indian governments, nor the government of Madhya Pradesh. This is one of the greatest scandals of our times. I am sad to say it: Bhopal is indeed a stain on the face of my beloved India.

I wish good luck to this generous and dedicated work of Samar S. Jodha. May it open the eyes of everyone on a tragedy which continues to spread its injustices and lethal effects day after day.

– Dominique Lapierre –

Awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President in 2008
Co-author of “It Was Five Past Midnight in Bhopal”
Founder of the Bhopal Sambhavna Gynaecological Clinic

More at bhopalasilentpicture

Forthcoming exhibition at The Times of India Khala Ghoda Arts Festival, 5th-13th February 2011

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We believe Dow & DuPont must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.