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German firm refuses to dispose Bhopal toxic waste

Written By Krishna on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 | 4:30 AM

September 18, 2012

A German firm has refused to remove 350 tonnes of toxic waste from Bhopal gas disaster site for disposal in Germany, claiming the soil was contaminated with insecticides and that the waste was not related to the world’s worst industrial accident.

The refusal may come as a blow to efforts of the Centre and Madhya Pradesh Government to clear off the toxic waste. A Group of Ministers (GoM) had in June this year approved removal of toxic waste, at the cost of Rs. 25 crore, by German agency-GIZ IS.

The German company claimed in a statement that there are 350 tonnes of soil contaminated with insecticides. “This is not hazardous waste related to the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. GIZ has decades of experience in the safe and responsible disposal of hazardous waste.

“Over the past 20 years, GIZ has taken on more than two dozen similar works in developing and emerging countries and disposed of hazardous chemicals in a way that was safe to humans and the environment,” it said.

After three months of contract negotiations between the Indian Government and GIZ for the disposal of 350 tonnes of soil contaminated with pesticides from Bhopal, GIZ withdrew its waste disposal offer (on Monday), the statement said.

Negotiations between the Centre and the German company collapsed after the latter backed out following an uproar from the civil society in Germany.

“This uncertainty extended to the German public. Hazardous waste disposal through GIZ is no longer an option,” the company said in a statement. The firm has written a letter to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who heads the GoM, to inform him about its decision. However, no agreement signed between the Indian Government and GIZ for removal of the waste.

About 346 MT toxic waste is lying within the premises of the erstwhile M/s Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) at Bhopal.

The worst-ever industrial disaster had taken place at the Union Carbide plant on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984.

According to government data, over Rs. 3,000 crore has been given as compensation in 5,295 cases of death, 4,902 cases of permanent disability, 5,27,894 cases of minor injury and 35,455 cases related to temporary disability due to the tragedy among others.

Other members of the GoM includes Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal and Madhya Pradesh Government Gas Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Babulal Gaur among others.

Keywords: Bhopal gas tragedy, Union Carbide, GoM on Bhopal, toxic waste disposal


Supreme Court orders disposal of Bhopal toxic waste in six months

J. Venkatesan,August 10, 2012

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Union government and Madhya Pradesh to take immediate steps for disposal of toxic waste lying in and around the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal in six months.

A Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar said this should be done on the recommendations of the Empowered Monitoring Committee, the Advisory Committee and the National Institute for Research in Environmental Health (NIREH).

The Bench said, “It is indisputable that [a] huge [amount] toxic materials/waste is still lying in and around the factory… Its very existence is hazardous to health. It needs to be disposed of at the earliest and in a scientific manner…, which may cause no further damage to human health and environment in Bhopal.”

The Bench ordered that a collective meeting of the monitoring committee and the other two organisations be held along with the Secretary to the government of India and the Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary within one month to finalise the entire scheme for disposal. This directive, it said, “is without prejudice to the appropriate orders or directions being issued by the court of competent jurisdiction.”

The Bench directed that all matters pertaining to Bhopal gas victims be transferred to the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur. It gave liberty to applicants or petitioners or any other affected person to move the High Court in the case of any violation of non-compliance with these directions or any other order passed by the court.

“The monitoring committee has already been authorised, and it is hereby clarified that it will hear the complaints and, if necessary, can even call for the records from the hospital or department concerned, record the statements of government servants or employees of the hospital and make its recommendations to the government for taking appropriate steps. If no action is taken by the State government even upon a reminder thereof, the committee would be well within its jurisdiction to approach the High Court for appropriate directions,” it said.

Keywords: Bhopal gas tragedy, gas leak victims, Supreme Court order, Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan, Union Carbide, Empowered Monitoring Committee

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