Bhopal gas tragedy: Toxic waste disposal still awaited

Bhopal gas tragedy: Toxic waste disposal still awaited

The toxic waste after the Bhopal Gas tragedy lying at the Union Carbide plant here is still awaiting disposal, even after 29 years of the world's worst industrial disaster, amid concerns of air and water pollution.

Though an NGO had in 2004 moved a PIL in Madhya Pradesh High Court after soil sample tests carried out in and around the closed plant revealed that the 350 metric tons of waste was causing air and water pollution in the surroundings having a huge human settlement, the toxic dump could not be cleared due to resistance from different environment groups.

The High Court later directed the Centre and the state that the toxic waste should be incinerated after tests at Pithampur in MP's Dhar district.

But the move could not see the light of the day after stiff opposition by NGOs which claimed that the waste disposal at the incinerator will harm Pithampur's people and its environment, Alok Pratap Singh, president of NGO 'Zahreeli Gas Kand Sangarsh Morcha', who had moved the HC, told PTI.

"After this, the HC ordered that the hazardous waste should be disposed of at Gujarat's Ankleshwar incinerator. Again the NGOs from that state protested against it. The Gujarat government petitioned the apex court to review the decision," Singh said.

Later, the Supreme Court directed that the waste should be incinerated at the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) facility near Nagpur. But, NGOs protested again in Maharashtra following which the state government expressed its unwillingness in court on the issue, he said.

A German firm later proposed to dispose of the waste in Germany, but backtracked following protests by NGOs in the European country, Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department's Deputy Secretary K K Dubey said.

After this, the apex court asked for the waste to be incinerated at Pithampur, and in a prelude 25-30 metric tonnes should be disposed on an experimental basis, he said.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) got similar waste of some organisation in Kochi incinerated at Pithampur. "Now we are waiting for words from CPCB to hand over the waste to them for incineration," Dubey said.

In June 2010, a Group of Ministers (GoM) was formed to look into the problems related to the disaster which earmarked Rs 315 crore for disposal of the waste, he said.

The verdict on Bhopal Gas Tragedy came 25 years after poisonous gas leaked from the plant on December 2-3, 1984, killing over 3,500 people and injuring over 5 lakh residents.

"...but for the people near the defunct factory, the tragedy isn't over as they still face air and water pollution given that the hazard waste lying in the factory," said activist Abdul Jabbar, working for the tragedy's survivors.

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