Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said the truth (about the Bhopal gas tragedy) is uncomfortable. The Minister said this after visiting the site of the disaster whose unofficial toll he put at 25,000. Though he did not clarify whether he was referring to the gas leak or its aftermath,he said it was time to look ahead after learning lessons from the tragedy.
In less than three months it will be 25 years of the worlds worst industrial disaster. I have held that waste in my hand,I am still alive, the minister said while referring to the 350 tonne toxic waste lying on the campus of the now abandoned plant.
NGOs have been campaigning for the wastes removal saying it was highly hazardous and that Dow Chemical be asked to clean up the site.
The minister chose not to say it in too many words but targeted the NGOs by observing that the greenery around the abandoned premises was better than most other places,and asked Would it have been (so) with all the toxicity around?
According to the Union minister,compensation has been paid to every eligible claimant. Ramesh said 40 tonnes of lime sludge had already been disposed of and the government hoped to dispose of the remaining waste within the next six months. Gujarat has already refused permission to incinerate the waste at Ankleshwar. The minister said the facility in Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh was the first choice while a committee was also looking for alternate sites.
Meanwhile,the state government has proposed to the Centre to share the Rs 110-crore memorial proposed for the gas victims. I am sure the Centre will support the initiative, Ramesh said after Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan discussed the matter with him.
The Centre has also proposed to upgrade the Disaster Management Institute set up after the gas tragedy to the level of a National Institute of Industrial Safety.