Plan to incinerate Bhopal waste at Pithampur
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.