Wednesday, September 1, 2010

India Blog Entry - September 1, 2010

All India had been was rain and hotels for me the first two days here...
But today, the sun was finally shining in Bhopal, the site of our first story.
As some of you recall, in 1984, a major gas leak from the Union Carbide plant in the city of Bhopal killed thousands instantly. It was utter chaos for weeks in Bhopal. Many would be afflicted with permanent injuries like deformities, blindness and mental problems.
In the last 25+ years, not much has changed in the city of Bhopal.  The UC plant still stands, now amongst twisted weeds. The inhabitants surrounding it are still dirt poor.
What does this have to do with sports, you ask?  I've said that the best sports stories are not stories about sports, but human interest stories and the effect they have on the world of sports.  It can be something small or something big. But likely, anything that has happened -- calamity or success -- has some tie to sports.  Bhopal is no different.
Children in the neighboring slums, who cling to nothing but a shirt on their back, still dream of getting out one day. Without a viable school system, sports may be their only option. And it is a gigantic longshot. But still they dream. And they do it on the playing fields in Bhopal -- of which many in the slums are located on or around the Union Carbide plant.
While this image may appear romantic, it is hardly that. Because of the gas leak and the lack of cleanup throughout the last two and a half decades, these children are playing on grounds that are likely highly contaminated.
Today, accompanied by a reknowned testing agency, we went around to a couple smaller cricket fields to see how contaminated they were.
Imagine knowing that as a child you were playing your favorite sport on a ground so contaminated it's unsafe. What would you do about it? If you live in the slums, you have no choice. Either play there or don't play at all.
Who's to blame for this? Not an easy question to answer.. More to come on that in later entries.

Yaron Deskalo

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