Bhopal waste: SC to decide trial burning venue

The Centre has decided to leave it to the Supreme Court to identify the venue for the trial burning of Bhopal toxic waste as the Group of Ministers (GoM) and Madhya Pradesh are at loggerheads over its location.

At a meeting last month, the GoM sided with the Environment Ministry's choice of conducting the tests at Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh, calling it the "correct and the best possible decision".

But the state minister in charge of Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Babu Lal Gaur, contested the selection saying that the treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) at Pithampur had the lowest capability among the 22 TSDFs in India. He also said transporting the 10 tonnes of sample out of the 346 tonnes of dump lying at the abandoned Union Carbide plant without consulting and building consensus among stakeholders could result in "strong public opposition" from the area.

"The MP government was opposed to any decision to even test incinerate the Bhopal waste in Pithampur," said the minutes of the GoM meeting. Safe transportation of Bhopal waste is the sole responsibility of the state government.

The GoM, however, has decided to continue the trial burning of "other similar waste" at Pithampur and approach the apex court with a request to approve it as the venue. But it would ask the court to "pass suitable orders for ensuring the full cooperation by the Madhya Pradesh government".

If the state has a problem, GoM said, it could mention its objections in the court where it was also being represented.

However, in deference to the state's objection, the GoM has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to evaluate the performance of all 22 TSDFs as regards their capability to meet the prescribed emission norms.

It has given four months to CPCB to evaluate the incinerators on their ability to monitor dioxins and furans that are emitted during the burning and their proximity to Bhopal to avoid a public opposition.

... contd.

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