BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY
Ministers call for German proposal to dispose Bhopal toxic waste
GIZ, the German agency, had earlier offered its services to airlift the 350 tonnes of waste and safely dispose it in the incinerators of Hamburg
In a meeting held by the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Monday, a German agency GIZ, has been asked to submit a formal proposal in two weeks time for the disposal of Union Carbide’s toxic waste lying in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The agency had earlier written to the state government offering its services to airlift the 350 tonnes of waste and safely dispose it in the incinerators of Hamburg, Germany.
This decision comes after a bench of the Supreme Court recently offered to hear the case on Bhopal, even during summer break, only if the GoM took a decision before 26 May. The court is going to hear the case next on 28 May.
Reacting to the decision, Chaman Dhanda, Director Project at GIZ, said, “Germany has been treating such kind of wastes from around the world and has the specialisation to safely dispose them. With a clear mandate being given to us (by the Indian government), we’ll submit the proposal with all the methodology involved.”
Earlier, the government was contemplating to dispose the waste at the Pithampur treatment facility of the Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. A trial run was conducted there last month by burning 10 tonnes of regular waste with the process being monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board for toxic gases. The report of the trial run is yet to be submitted to the GoM.
Environmentalists have been criticising the Pithampur facility on the grounds of it being not compliant with the pollution emission standards. The incinerators are also located too close to the residential area and might pose a great health hazard in case of any accident. Moreover, GIZ has offered to dispose the waste at just one-fourth of the cost quoted by the Ramky Eviro Engineers Limited, making it all the more viable for the government.
Babulal Gaur, Minister of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department in Madhya Pradesh, said, “People living there (in Pithampur and Bhopal) don’t want the waste to be disposed there. Even Jairam Ramesh went there and said that.” Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development and former environment minister, had written to the GoM on 19 April 2012 urging it to consider the proposal of GIZ.
Both the Central and the state governments have been struggling since 1984 to find a way to dispose the toxic waste post the Bhopal gas disaster. The incident killed more than 2000 people and caused serious damage to the health of close to five lakh people.
Prakhar Jain is a Correspondent with Tehelka.