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Gujarat against disposal of Bhopal waste at Ankleshwar

Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL: The Gujarat government has refused to allow disposal of toxic waste from the abandoned Union Carbide plant at the incinerator facility in Ankleshwar, according to copies of letters from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the State’s Department of Forest and Environment.

This was highlighted at a press conference here on Sunday by representatives of four people’s organisations working among the victims of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster. Mediapersons were jointly addressed by Satinath Sarangi and Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information & Action, Syed M. Irfan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha and Rashida Bi of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh.

Copies of the letters were circulated among journalists. These were obtained using the Right to Information Act.

“Feigning ignorance”

Mr. Sarangi said the Madhya Pradesh government continued to feign ignorance in this regard and was trying to cover up its failure to find a facility within the country that would accept Bhopal’s hazardous waste for disposal.

The letters refer to “opposition from various NGOs and representatives of public” and categorically state that the Madhya Pradesh government must carry out “disposal of the waste elsewhere.”

Mr. Sarangi said that safe disposal of the toxic waste was not possible in India, and Gujarat’s refusal to handle it proved this point.

The leaders heading the people’s organisations reiterated their demand that the government should force Dow Chemical to clean up and ship the toxic waste to some facility in the United States just as the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board forced Unilever in 2003 to ship its mercury waste from its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal to the United States for treatment and disposal.

The organisations also presented copies of correspondence between the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) and the Union Carbide to show that in 1991 the Board recommended export of toxic waste.

Drawing attention to the massive exposure of residents near the Union Carbide plant site to toxic dust during the packaging of the waste in June 2005, the activists expressed apprehension that the Bhopal residents and those on the route of the trucks carrying the waste would once again suffer health hazards.

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