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Plan to incinerate Bhopal waste at Pithampur

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Author(s): Moyna
Date:Sep 19, 2012

Doubts had been expressed earlier over the capacity of the waste disposal facility in Dhar district

The Union government is reconsidering its options of disposing of the hazardous waste lying at the abandoned Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. At a high level meeting held in Bhopal on September 18, it was suggested that the waste be disposed of at the incineration plant in Pithampur in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. The meeting came close on the heels of termination of offer made by German agency Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to airlift the waste to Germany  and incinerate it there.

In April this year, the Supreme Court had ordered that the waste be burnt at the incineration plant in Pithampur, 200 km from Bhopal, but protests had led to withdrawal of the order. The protesters had questioned the capacity and capability of the plant.

Vinod Babu, head of the hazardous waste division of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), says the plant at Pithampur  meets 10 of the 12 criteria essential for an incineration plant, and can be improved over a period of time. The facility was closed following the orders of the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board.

At the meeting, Praveer Krishna, principal secretary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Resettlement department of the Madhya Pradesh government, stressed on the need for transparency. Special emphasis should be given to obtaining public consent regarding trial runs at the Pithampur facility because earlier attempts to use the plant have been the target of severe public ire, he said.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Madhya Pradesh government, CPCB, Ministry of Environment and Forests and court-appointed monitoring and advisory committees. Purnendu Shukla, member of the Supreme Court monitoring committee, said waste disposal at Pithampur would be thoroughly tested before starting work. The suggestion will be submitted to the apex court at the next hearing on October 15, 2012 before any further decision is taken, he said.
 

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Bhopal solid waste, which is lying at site for the past 27 years, has been till now considered as "toxic and hazardous", and that is why its disposal by way of incineration in Bhopal, Ankleshwar, Nagpur, Navi Mumbai and again back to Pithampur was protested by NGO,activists and local residents. It has been accepted that the waste is as hazardous and harmful as MIC gas, which was cause for Union Carbide 1984 tragedy, and it was reasonable considering the prevailing situation at that time. At last GoM/GoI decided to send the same to Germany, absorbing cost of Rs 25 crore. BUT SURPRISINGLY German experts stated that the waste "is a soil contaminated with pesticides and this is not hazardous waste related to 1984 Bhopal story', on first site, there is no reason for NOT BELIEVING GERMAN EXPERTS, but GoI/GoM should ask for an official certificate with test report tested at German approved lab, and at the same time the whole lot of 350 MT of so called toxic waste shold be quarantined immediately at site. Draw an authentic, say 5 kg, sample in the presence of safety, health and environment experts at least from 5 different sites of lot, mix properly and send for analysis to at least three MoEF-approved labs in Bhopal, Ankleshwar and Nagpur and one German govt-approved lab, and confirm whether this sample is as hazardous and toxic as what was considered so far OR it is what German experts stated and if it is SAFE TO INCINERATE IN INDIA. MoEF,SPCB should take NGO, activists, local residents in confidence,widely publicise that it is safe to incinerate through print electronic media. SPCB should give green signal to incinerate and we hope our long pending issue will come to end peacefully.

But if we cannot wait any further to decide which incinerator in India is most effective, then it is worthy to send to BEIL- CPCB-approved incinerator at Ankleshwar, Gujarat as decided earlier ( that time BEIL management assured local residents through media that it is safe to incinerate but finally because of strong protests, it was decided to incinerate at Nagpur). I am hopeful that Gujarat MOEF/QCI/NABET-accredited environment consultannts and laboratory shall extend all possible technical assistance at reasonable cost for this noble cause and BEIL management, on request, shall spend part of profit quantum towards improvement of environmental status of Ankleshwar and this will contribute a valuable in taking Ankleshwar off the list of critically polluted zones, resulting in restoring industrial progress of Anleshwar, Panoli and Jhaghadia industrial estates. For this noble cause, all political parties, environmental NGOs, industrial associations,technocrats, media,local residents should unite and come on one platform so that task can be completed and all credits will go to Gujarat govt. Readers views are welcome if they have in mind any better method for dispoal of this 350+MT Bhopal waste. Pravinchandra

9 November 2012
Posted by
pravinchandra

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