Government will not open Bhopal plant as memorial

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(CNN) -- It was to be a somber memorial, a remembrance of those who perished in a lethal milky fog.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the world's worst industrial disaster, authorities planned to open up the now-dilapidated shell of the Union Carbide fertilizer plant, where in the wee hours of December 3, 1984, 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas oozed out onto the sleeping city of Bhopal, India.

About 4,000 people died instantly in the toxic leak, an event that came to be marked each year with disputes over victims' rights and government accountability.

On this year's milestone anniversary, a new controversy has stirred.

The state government of Madhya Pradesh planned to temporarily open the long-silent plant -- surrounded by concrete barriers and barbed wire -- to the public. It was to be part of a series of events observing the tragedy.

Because everyone wanted to see, to know. For the same reason that a person visits a Nazi concentration camp or ground zero in New York.

"Everyone wants to see the world's worst industrial disaster," said S.R. Mohanty, the secretary for the Relief and Rehabilitation Department for the Bhopal gas tragedy.

It was going to be the government's way of reassuring its people that the plant no longer posed a threat to society.

But the move sparked protests from victim rights groups and environmental activists. Just days before the anniversary, government officials backed away from the plan they had recently announced...

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