Govt Now Plans to Dis­pose Toxic UCC Waste Via Ten­der

Move comes over a year af­ter pilot in­cin­er­a­tion of 10 tonnes in MP’s Dhar

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Anub­huti.Vish­noi @times­group.com

New Delhi: Thirty two years af­ter the ghastly Union Car­bide gas leak killed and maimed thou­sands of peo­ple, the gov­ern­ment is fi­nally pre­par­ing for com­plete dis­posal of about 332 tonnes of toxic waste ly­ing dumped in the Bhopal fac­tory, through the ten­der route. The move comes over a year af­ter the pilot in­cin­er­a­tion of 10 tonnes of Union Car­bide waste was con­ducted in Dhar district of Mad­hya Pradesh and a re­port was sub­mit­ted to the Supreme Court say­ing that the re­sult­ing emis­sions/pol­lu­tion was within per­mis­si­ble lim­its. The re­port has paved way for dis­posal of the re­main­ing 300 odd tonnes of waste as well and the Cen­tre is set to move ahead, sources told ET. The dis­posal of this waste sit­ting for three decades in Bhopal has in­ci­den­tally been the sub­ject of much de­bate and dis­cus­sion but has found no res­o­lu­tion. Back in 2007, the Ja­balpur High Court or­dered its de­struc­tion at the ear­li­est. A UPA era Group of Min­is­ters headed by P Chi­dam­abaram on the Bhopal Gas tragedy is­sue, had pro­posed that over 300 tonnes of this waste be air­lifted to Ger­many for dis­posal by the Ger­man So­ci­ety for In­ter­na­tional Co-op­er­a­tion (GIZ)- a pro­posal that fell through, as did oth­ers for dis­posal of the waste in Ma­ha­rash­tra and Gu­jarat. The 2015 pilot in­cin­er­a­tion of a part of the waste, how­ever, may have set the ball fi­nally rolling.

ET has now learnt that the En­vi­ron­ment min­istry re- cently sought funds for dis­posal of the toxic waste and re­me­di­a­tion of the heav­ily con­tam­i­nated site and the Depart­ment of Ex­pen­di­ture has ap­proved the al­lo­ca­tion for the same. High level dis­cus­sions are now on to de­cide whether it should be the En­vi­ron­ment min­istry which should float the ten­der and di­rectly fund the dis­posal and re­me­di­a­tion or should it be done through the Mad­hya Pradesh Gov­ern­ment which can then be al­lo­cated funds.. A de­ci­sion is likely to be taken later this month, re­li­able sources told ET. Ramky Group which op­er­ates the Treat­ment Stor­age and Dis­posal Fa­cil­ity ( TSDF) at Dhar district had con­ducted the first pilot round of in­cin­er­a­tion of waste from the Union Car­bide plant in 2015.In­cin­er­a­tion of about 10 tonnes cost about .₹ 15 crore. Ac­cord­ingly, it is es­ti­mated that dis­posal of the en­tire 332 tonnes of waste will run close to .₹ 500 crore.

Aware that most states will not al­low the in­cin­er­a­tion to be con­ducted in their ter­ri­tory, it is ex­pected that it will have to be done at a site in Mad­hya Pradesh it­self. Even that will be no smooth route as the pilot in­cin­er­a­tion at Dhar drew con­sid­er­able ire and op­po­si­tion from ac­tivists and civil so­ci­ety on its en­vi­ron­men­tal and health im­pact.

Union Car­bine In­dia man­u­fac­tured pes­ti­cides at its plant in Bhopal from1969 to1984 un­til the fate­ful, De­cem­ber 1984 night when the deadly methyl iso­cyanate leaked out of the plant into the city killing thou­sands & maim­ing many oth­ers.

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