The Maharashtra government has denied permission to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to burn toxic waste left behind after the Bhopal gas tragedy at the hazardous waste incinerator in Navi Mumbai.
The CPCB had sought permission for a trial run to burn 10 metric tonnes (10,000 kg) of toxic waste lying at the defunct Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. The factory was shut after poisonous methyl cyanide gas leak killed more than 20,000 people in December 1984. The total toxic waste at the factory is 364 metric tonnes.
Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) received a letter from the CPCB last week seeking permission to burn the toxic waste at the incinerator run by the Mumbai Waste Management Limited at Taloja.
“We have denied a no-objection certificate for a trial run at the Taloja facility. The state is of the opinion that the toxic waste must be disposed of at a facility close to the incident site in Madhya Pradesh,” said Valsa Nair Singh, state environment secretary.
MPCB officials are miffed at not being consulted on the plan to conduct the trial run in Navi Mumbai. “There is not need to conduct a trial run in Navi Mumbai when Madhya Pradesh has its own facility to dispose of hazardous waste located just 229 km away from the defunct Union Carbide factory. The toxic waste will have to travel around 780 km if it has to be brought to Navi Mumbai,” said a senior MPCB official requesting anonymity.
Last year, in an ongoing public interest litigation, the Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh high court had directed the Centre to identify an authorised facility in the country to conduct a trial run to burn the toxic waste from the Union Carbide factory in a controlled environment. A report on toxic waste analysis had to be submitted to the court.
In December, the court turned down the Centre’s plan for a trial run at the incineration facility of the Defence Research and Development Organisation in Nagpur.
“We fear that a trial run in this facility will eventually extend to becoming a permanent facility for disposing of toxic waste,” said the MPCB official.