Government asked to resolve row over Union Carbide waste disposal

January 19th, 2009 - 10:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) More than 24 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy killed thousands and left thousands of others maimed for life, the toxic wastes lying at the Union Carbide plant are causing trouble between two states - Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.The Supreme Court Monday asked the central government to help the states resolve a dispute over disposal of around 350 tonnes of the highly toxic waste.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam asked the government to convene a meeting between the two states to help them resolve the discord over disposal of the methyl isocyanate (MIC) waste in an incinerator at Ankleshwar in Gujarat.

The bench asked the government to apprise it of the outcome of the meeting before Feb 20, when the apex court would again hear the Gujarat government lawsuit against a Madhya Pradesh High Court ruling, ordering disposal of the toxic waste at Ankleshwar.

Disregarding the Gujarat government’s objections, the Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court had ordered disposal of the waste in Ankleshwar.

Last December, it also directed that the toxic waste be moved to Ankleshwar, warning of contempt proceedings if any attempt was made to stop it.

It is against this order that the Gujarat government moved the apex court. It has contended that it cannot allow the toxic waste of the neighbouring state to be disposed of in its own territory, posing a risk to the health of the state’s people and damaging the environment.

The Gujarat government has contended that Madhya Pradesh has already developed a site at Pithampura, about 180 km from Bhopal, to incinerate and dispose of the toxic waste lying at the Union Carbide plant.

Instead of transporting the waste over a long distance to Ankleshwar in south Gujarat, the toxic waste could be disposed of at the newly developed site in Madhya Pradesh itself, contended senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for Gujarat.

The central government counsel said that the Gujarat government had earlier given its permission for disposal of the waste, but had later retracted from its words.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court had ordered disposal of the toxic waste at Ankleshwar, taking cognizance of a report submitted by a team that visited the Ankleshwar facility on Oct 15 last year after the Gujarat government’s opposition.

Thousands of tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) spewed out of the Union Carbide factory on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, killing thousands of people instantly and maiming several thousands for life.

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