Bhopal waste to be dumped in Germany

Cost of airlifting the toxic wastes is pegged at Rs 25 crore

A Group of Ministers (GoM) on Bhopal gas tragedy on Friday agreed to allow the Madhya Pradesh government to dispose of 350 metric tonnes of Union Carbide toxic waste, in Germany.

In this Dec. 5, 1984 file photo, two men carry children blinded by the Union Carbide chemical pesticide leak to a hospital in Bhopal, India. (AP Photo/Sondeep Shankar)

The state government is on the verge of signing a contract with German firm GIZ IS to airlift to Hamburg in Germany the toxic waste from the erstwhile Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) factory at Bhopal.

As per the GoM decision, the Centre will foot the bill of Rs 25 crore, the cost of lifting the toxic waste in containers from the site and flying them of to Germany. The whole exercise will be completed in a year.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Babulal Gaur, who represents the state in the GoM headed by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, said the GoM had asked the Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan government in Madhya Pradesh to prepare an agreement within two weeks.

The home ministry will vet the agreement and file an affidavit before the Supreme Court to seek its approval before giving a final go-ahead for removing the waste. “The proposal has been agreed to. The waste will be disposed of in Germany. The cost of Rs 25 crore for airlifting the toxic material will be borne by the Centre. The whole procedure of removing the waste will be completed within a year,” said Gaur after coming out the meeting held in the North Block.

The GoM was attended among others by Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad and Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal. It will meet again on June 22 to finetune the agreement for clearing the debris.

The government and activists have different take on the estimate of the volume of the toxic waste lying at the factory. While the government believes about 350 MT toxic waste is lying at UCIL premises, the activists are convinced that official records show that 27,000 metric tonnes of hazardous waste and contaminated soil are buried in the solar evaporation ponds inside the factory.

The government has not been able to settle the issue even after 28 years since the worst-ever industrial disaster took place on the intervening night of December 2-3 in 1984.

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