The group of ministers (GoM) on Bhopal gas disaster has vetoed the move to dump around 347 metric tonnes of toxic waste of the Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant at Pithampur-based Treatment Storage Disposal Facility (TSDF) in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh.
“The GoM decided that the toxic waste will not be dumped in Pithampur in view of the local protests arising out of environmental concerns. An alternative site will be decided by the Madhya Pradesh government and the Centre for safe disposal of the toxic material,” Mr Babulal Gaur, urban administration and development minister in the Madhya Pradesh government and an invitee to the GoM deliberations here on Monday, told reporters.
GoM also decided to award an additional Rs 72-crore compensation to families of gas victims not covered earlier. “This amount will be disbursed by December 2010. Where there is a dispute regarding the lawful claimant, a settlement will be reached and dues disbursed by March next year,“ Mr Gaur added.
The GoM was chaired by home minister P Chidambaram and attended by law minister Veerappa Moily, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, environment minister Jairam Ramesh, besides Mr Gaur who was a special invitee.
Mr Ramesh, during a visit to Pithampur in July this year, was greeted with vocal protests from the local residents and NGOs, who complained that the ground water in the area had been contaminated after 40 tonnes of lethal waste was ‘secretly dumped’ in the incinerator in 2008. The environment minister, while denying knowledge of this ‘secret dumping’ of toxic waste, apologised to the village and assured them no further disposal would be done without taking into account its impact on environment and people residing in the area.
“The disposal of Union Carbide waste will be done in co-ordination between the Centre and the state and the locals will be taken into confidence,” he told the locals.
The minister said an independent study will be conducted to assess the possible impact of disposal of toxic waste on the soil and environment in the areas concerned.
TSDF is run by a private firm, Ramky Enviro Engineers. Some NGOs are alleging that its unit lacks several necessary facilities, a charge denied by the company which said it is “not only capable of undertaking the disposal but specialises in such works.”
The toxic waste dumped in the factory consist of 96 MT of Sevin and Napthal residue, 30 MT Reactor residue, 56 MT semi-processed pesticides and 165 MT excavated waste.