NGT asks CPCB, MP govt to assess hazardous waste at Bhopal's Union Carbide factory


New Delhi/Bhopal, Dec 26 : The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Madhya Pradesh government to ascertain the factual position of hazardous waste lying at the defunct Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. The tribunal's principal bench has sought that the situation be ascertained by the joint committee comprising of the CPCB, State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), and the Bhopal District Magistrate, and the final report be submitted to the tribunal within the next two months. The bench, headed by NGT Chairman, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (retd) has fixed March 9, 2022 for the next hearing on this matter. The tribunal's decision came on December 22, while hearing a complaint filed in 2017 on the basis of media reports highlighting that a "huge amount of hazardous waste" is still lying at the factory premises and outside. The Union Carbide factory, located in old Bhopal, had caused the world's worst industrial disaster 37 years back, due to the toxic gas leak on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. "Having regard to the seriousness of the allegation, it appears necessary to ascertain the factual position in the matter through a joint committee of the CPCB, State PCB and the District Magistrate, Bhopal," the NGT said, adding that the state PCB will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance on ascertaining the amount of hazardous waste and the joint committee must make an inspection visit, within two weeks. As per official reports, the Madhya Pradesh government had, in June this year, initiated a plan to dispose of 337 metric tonnes of hazardous waste from the factory premises for construction of a memorial to the Bhopal gas tragedy victims. However, officials privy to the matter told IANS that the "plan of disposing of 337 metric tonnes hazardous waste was yet be executed due to various reasons, including the Covid-19 pandemic". "Tendering process to hire a private agency for the purpose of disposing of hazardous waste is under process," said an official on condition of anonymity. On the other hand, activists working for the welfare of the Bhopal Gas tragedy victims claimed that this 337 metric tonnes is just 2 per cent of the total hazardous waste. "There hasn't been any comprehensive scientific assessment to ascertain the actual amount of hazardous waste in and outside the factory's premises. It is need to know that what chemicals are present, and at what depths and distances, and then, a plan for environmental remediation could be prepared. "Without doubt, much attention will need to be paid to thousands of tonnes of toxic sludge, buried outside the factory that is leaching poisons into the soil and groundwater," said activist Rachna Dhingra. /IANS


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