A task force set up to review the progress of toxic waste removal from Union Carbide plant site had at one point agreed that co-processing of the toxic waste in cement kilns in Madhya Pradesh in a prescribed scientific manner “was technically most feasible and an environmentally sound option.” This was based on the technical study conducted by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), reveal minutes of the 20th meeting of the task force held on January 5, 2010.
Chairman of the task force had later asked the Madhya Pradesh government to indicate the action taken on the proposal to dispose the waste in cement kilns.
However, the proposal was turned down by the state government citing sensitivity of the issue, public opinion and reluctance of cement companies to process the waste.
"Yes, there was a proposal to that effect but it was shot down. In the incineration process, temperature has to be maintained at a certain level. In India, at no cement kiln the temperature is monitored. It's done in developed countries like Germany, where particles released during incineration and temperature of the kiln is strictly monitored. In fact, it was a pet project of SPS Gautam, who was chairman of MP Pollution Control Board and later became CPCB chairman. He always proposed incineration at the cement kiln but it is not possible in India," said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information & Action (BGIA).
However, Gautam Kothari, convener of Lok Maitri, an Indore-based NGO, disagreed. "A test has already established that mixing the toxic waste with 2% coal and incinerating it in the cement kiln can be done safely without any adverse effects. When all the relevant agencies agreed that the toxic waste could be safely incinerated in cement kilns, why could it not be done in a remote plant where there is no risk." The cost of disposing the waste in cement kilns would also be far less than the estimated cost of Rs. 25 crore for airlifting the waste to Germany.