Almost 29 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy, the 350 tonnes of toxic waste can be burnt at an incinerator at Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) informed the Supreme Court on Friday.
India’s national pollution watchdog informed the apex court monitoring the issue of waste disposal that the trial runs at the Pithampur incinerator of similar toxic waste sources from a Kerala based public sector undertaking was successful.
“We don’t think that the assumption of CPCB is correct,” said Satinath Sarangi, who has been fighting for the victims of Bhopal gas tragedy. “The particulate matter and carbon dioxide emissions were higher than the prescribed limit. The dioxin levels were also at its peak”.
The CPCB had conducted six trials on waste from paint and pharmaceutical industry to stabilise the Pithampur incinerator in June 2013. “The results obtained are satisfactory with respect to compliance,” CPCB said in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court.
The Madhya Pradesh government has sought time to response to the CPCB’s claim that the stored toxic waste of Bhopal can be burnt. The court has given the state government ten days to file a reply.
The waste was excavated and packed at the Union Carbide site in 2005 by a private firm, Ramky Limited. Since then, three different places in India including Ankaleshwar in Gujarat, Nagpur in Maharashtra and Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh have been considered for incineration of toxic waste. At all these places, the proposal had to be withdrawn after the protests from local communities.
There was also a proposal from a German agency to air-lift the toxic waste and burnt it in Germany. The proposal was shelved after opposition from local German groups. Then, incineration at Pithampur was again considered.