New Delhi, Oct.23: A ministerial panel has ordered laboratory testing of toxic waste arising out of the December 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy before deciding upon the place for its safe disposal.
The meeting was called after a German firm, which was appointed to dispose 350 tonnes of toxic waste from the disaster site pulled out from the contract recently.
The minister-in-charge for the Bhopal Gas Relief and Rehabilitation Department, Babulal Gaur Yadav, said the incinerator would be decided only after the laboratory test of toxic waste.
“There are 22 incinerators across the country and we had asked them (central government) to form a sub-committee so that one can decide upon the best incinerators for disposal of the toxic waste. But they said that it should be first tested and then we would keep our point in front of Supreme Court, and central government will keep their point because as of now we are not able to decide upon the place where toxic waste should be disposed. Until and unless the consensus is reached over the issue i.e. places between state governments where these incinerators are located and Bharatiya Janata Party, this toxic waste cannot be disposed,” said Yadav.
The Supreme Court had cited that existence of toxic waste is hazardous to health and had set a deadline for disposal of the waste by December 2012.
In the early hours of December 3, 1984, around 40 metric tonnes of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked into the atmosphere from the plant of Union Carbide and the breeze carried the lethal gas to the surrounding slums.
The government says around 3,500 died because of the disaster.
However, social activists fighting for the rights of the victims estimate that nearly 25,000 people died in the immediate aftermath and the years that followed.
A criminal case is pending against the then CEO of Union Carbide, Warren Anderson, whom lawyers say was responsible for the disaster and the contamination of the soil and water around the factory. There is a warrant for Anderson’s arrest in India.
Union Carbide settled its liabilities with the Indian government in 1989 by paying 470 million dollars before another US-based company, Dow Chemicals, bought it over.
On Saturday, the Madhya Pradesh High Court lifted the stay against summoning of The Dow Chemical firm.
The Indian Government is trying to see if Dow can be held liable and be forced to pay up more compensation whereas it denies owning up any responsibility. (ANI)