The environment ministry will consider bio-remediation as an option to clean toxins at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal.
“The potential for bio-remediation at the Bhopal site has not been systematically studied. It will discussed at the next oversight meeting being on May 25,” environment minister Jairam Ramesh said, while releasing a technical report on "Bio-remediation, its Applications to Contaminated Sites in India".
Bioremediation is a new concept in India, where certain plants are used to absorb toxics from soil or water. Only five projects -- one in Ludhiana and four under the Ganga cleaning programme -- worth Rs 20 crore have been initiated using the different modes of bio-remediation applications.
Dr M N V Prasad, who brought out the report, said bio-remediation was possible in Bhopal once the toxic material is taken to a landfill site. Ramesh said in Bhopal, bio-remediation -- the most cost effective and the most visible method of environmental remediation -- has a very considerable scope.
The bio-remediation can also work at the factor site to clean underground water, if a decision is taken to dismantle the existing structure. The Madhya Pradesh government has suggested that the existing structure should remain as a memorial for victims of the gas tragedy in 1984.
The minister, who heads the oversight committee, said the government has to deal with two issues in Bhopal. First was disposal of 350 tonnes of toxic waste and second was dismantling the entire structure at the factory site.
Disposal of toxic waste at Pitampur incinerator has already been ruled out and MP government will make a presentation on the proposed memorial at the May 25 meeting.
It was only after the government decided on these two pivotal issues a view will be taken on the ground water and soil contamination issues.