Organisations working for the rights of Bhopal gas tragedy survivors have raised health concerns over alleged ‘secret’ transfer of toxic waste for disposal from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal to a facility at Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar district. Following local media reports that a secret disposal of the toxic waste from the defunct plant was being carried out in Pithampur for the last few weeks, five organisations fighting for the rights of survivors of the disaster in Bhopal sought to know from the government why the operation was being carried out in a hush-hush manner.
The organisations charged the Department of Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation, Madhya Pradesh government, with violating the directions of the Supreme Court regarding the disposal of the waste and endangering the lives and health of residents of Pithampur. However, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) has denied the allegations and said no rules are being violated. Expressing apprehension that the directions of the Supreme Court with regard to the ongoing test incineration were being violated, Bhopal Group for Information and Action’s Rachna Dhingra told reporters, “There is nothing to show that the entire operation has been and was being videographed.”
She specifically expressed concern over the absence of monitoring of toxic pollutants – dioxins and furans – that only a CPCB expert is capable of, who was allegedly not present. She pointed out that during the incineration trial runs at Pithampur, the people of the area were exposed to dangerous levels of dioxins six out of seven times. Instead of focusing on the vital task of scientific assessment of contaminated area around the abandoned factory, the Central and state governments are responsible for Bhopal-like disasters through thoughtless actions, she alleged.
Besides BGIA, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh president Rashida Bee, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangarsh Morcha president Balkrishna Namdeo, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha’s Nawab Khan and Children Against Dow Carbide’s Safreen Khan also expressed apprehension over the way trial run of toxic waste disposal is being carried out. When asked to comment on the issue, MPPCB Chairman Dr N P Shukla told PTI, “All guidelines given by Ministry of Environment and Forests, Central Pollution Control Board and the Supreme Court are being followed in toto. No question of violating any norms arises”.
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