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Row over report on Carbide site water

Written By Krishna on Thursday, August 23, 2012 | 12:16 PM

A cruel joke has been played out at the expense of the Bhopal victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster. The Supreme Court had ordered the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to file a report on the status of the ground water contamination at the Union Carbide plant site in Bhopal by June 4, 2012.

The CPCB has treated this entire exercise in a rather lackadaisical fashion and from the six samples tested by them, five were taken from the drinking water supply of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation. The sixth sample was taken from a borewell dug in Street No. 8 and being used by the Ayasha Hotel at Arif Nagar in Bhopal.

The CPCB then arrived at the conclusion that “it had observed that the water quality (of all the six samples taken) was within the limit of drinking water”, and this is part of the information they have submitted in their affidavit to the Supreme Court.

Activists are up in arms against the affidavit, especially since the Union Carbide factory dealt with several toxic substances. A study undertaken by the Hyderabad-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology way back in 1996 had highlighted the presence of heavy metals, including cadmium, chromium, copper, manganese nickel and zinc, in the wastes dumped in the factory premises.

A subsequent study conducted by Greenpeace had found concentrations of carbon tetrachloride, tricholroethane and other poisons in the ground water.

The CPCB submission before the court also mentioned that (following the court direction) they have requisitioned the services of the Lucknow-based Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) to study the whole issue of ground water contamination in greater depth.
But here again, Gopal Krishna of ToxicsWatch Alliance, who is closely monitoring the case, pointed out, “The CPCB had contacted IITR to undertake this study on January 24, 2012, which is two months prior to the court order. Surprisingly, they have asked them to follow the guidelines of the Nagpur-based National Environment Engineering Research Institute report on this same issue.”

Eyebrows are being raised on even this directive since NEERI was forced to revise the findings of its first report which had state that the groundwater flow of the acquifers was in a north east direction.

They revised this to state the flow was in both a north-east and north-west direction but experts have now come round to accept their earlier findings as being correct.

Rashme Sehgal
The Asian Age
Source URL: http://www.asianage.com/india/row-over-report-carbide-site-water-610
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