COST OF AN ACCIDENT


Introduction


Accidents cause a lot of damage to Human life and well being, Environment and the growing Economy. Road accidents worldwide result in loss of more than 10 lakh invaluable human lives every year. Social cost of accidents in developing countries worldwide is estimated to be $100 billion a year.


The calamitous accident, which occurred on the night of December 2-3, 1984, “The Bhopal disaster”, the worst industrial accident in history killed several thousand people and injured another two lakhs in the space of a few hours. The tragedy was so huge that “Mother’s didn’t know their children had died, children didn’t know their mothers had died and men didn’t know their whole families had died”.


In a fast growing economy like India where large scale integrated continuous processing plants are operated a single major accident can turn the investors away, lessen people’s confidence and create huge unemployment in addition to human suffering.


Frequent accidents at Haj pilgrimage killing several hundred lives, recent fire accident at Tamil Nadu killing 60 people are testimonies to invaluable losses caused by accidents.


Natural and Un-natural accidents


According to the latest statistics published by the LPA of India, unnatural causes accounted for 93.2 % of total accidental deaths in India. In this the loss of lives due to Road and Rail accidents, Fire and Industrial accidents constituted a major chunk of 38.9 % and 12 % respectively.


An estimated 2,44,412 people died due to un-natural accidental causes in 1999. Deaths due to road accidents were 81,036 in 1999. Accidents caused by Nature’s fury resulted in 27,506 deaths in 1999 (as per NSC).


Accidents result in loss of organs, kidney and liver failure, blindness, orphaned children, side effects like deformed babies, impotence, depression, loss of lively hood.


Road accidents


Road accidents worldwide kill more than 10 lakh people and injure tens of lakhs more every year. 85 % of all road accident deaths occur in developing countries and nearly half in South Asian region. Young men in the age group of 14 and 45, the most productive group in the society, are most likely getting hurt or killed in road accidents.


The global cost of road accidents (at least $100 billion a year) in developing and emerging nations like India is more than twice the total aid received by them from all bilateral and multilateral sources.


India accounts for about 10 % of road accident fatalities worldwide. Around One lakh fatal accidents occur on Indian roads every year. An estimated 12,75,000 persons are grievously injured on the road every year. Social cost of accidents in India is estimated to be $ 11,000.


Gujarat earthquake


The Bhuj earthquake of Jan’01 resulted in 19,727 deaths, 1,66,000 injured, 6,00,000 homeless, 11,92,000 houses destroyed, 1,00,000 children orphaned.


People affected by earthquake were 15.9 million people out of 37.8 population of Gujarat. The above Government estimates are conservative and the actual no. could be many times.


Government estimates place direct economic losses at $1.3 billion. Other estimates indicate losses may be as high as $5 billion.


Industrial disasters - Indian


Bhopal gas tragedy: 40 tons of Methyl Isocyanate released by over pressure of storage tank caused by water contamination from 5250 MT/year loss making plant of M/s Union carbide operating at 32 % capacity resulted in more than 8,000 people dead (2800 official), 50,000 injured due to poisoning. An estimated 2 lakh people were relocated.


The first of the autopsies revealed that the human blood had turned purple red, the lungs had become ash colour and filled with their own secretions. The tracheas were so dry that the mucous flaked off on touch. Sometimes the blood was so thick that if you dipped your finger in it and lifted it, it would come off like a wire.


For one whole week the government could not assure the citizens of Bhopal on whether the air they were breathing, the water they were drinking, and the food they were consuming were safe or not.


The Bhopal Gas disaster, which left thousands of people dead and 6,00,000 injured, was settled for a mere US $ 470 million compensation - which works out to around Rs.10,000 per victim if it had been divided equally amongst all.


Patna gas leakage during transport resulted in 100 deaths in April’90. Fuel fire caused by tanker accident at Chennai resulted in 122 deaths