The Environment Ministry has got an approval from the Supreme Court to direct the Madhya Pradesh government to allow a test incineration of the toxic waste of Union Carbide factory that led to the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984.
The Supreme Court last week upheld the decision of a high-level meeting of the Environment Ministry to direct the MP Pollution Control Board (MPPCB),and the Central Pollution Control Board to carry out incineration of 10 of the 350 metric tonnes of toxic waste lying at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) site since 1984. The CPCB is to test the incineration at Pithampur in MP and monitor results visavis its impact on environment through the release of toxic gas,if any,for 60 days. Based on the results of the test,the government will take a call on the remaining bulk of the waste.
The MP government had been denying permission for this following protests from pressure groups citing possible environmental hazards of the exercise. The MPCB,too,had been denying permission to take the waste to Nagpur and incinerate an alternate solution offered a few years ago following protests in MP.
But activist groups have now alleged that the meeting,which took this decision in February,did not have representation from either the MP government or the various organisations of the survivors.
The Environment Ministry moved a Special Leave Petition and got the approval on April 4.
The survivors organisations and other environmental groups have now alleged that the site in Pithampur where the government originally planned to burn the toxic waste before it was shot down by the MP government is 200 metres from a village. The CPCB guidelines state that no incinerator can be built within 500 m of any village or habitation, said a protestor.
Ministry sources said the February meeting discussed that at a temperature upwards of 1200 degrees Celsius,which will be used to burn the waste in the incinerator,diaxin and furan the two cancer-causing gases do not emit. Environmentalists have for years challenged this claim.