Bhopal: The 350 tonnes of toxic waste lying in  the Union Carbide Factory campus in Bhopal is likely to get disposed off at the laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh here on Wednesday.

Ramesh, who was here to preside over the meeting of Oversight Committee on Bhopal Environmental Remediation, hinted at DRDO’s interest in taking up the task of clearing the toxic waste of Union Carbide plant.

Union Minister for Environment and Forests said, “The DRDO has shown interest in clearing 350 tonnes of waste lying in the Union Carbide Factory, with (ensuring) no harm to the environment.”

Further, he said even the DRDO would need two years to dispose of the waste from the Carbide factory, the site of the catastrophic gas leak of 1984, adding "I am going to write a letter to the Defence Minister A K Antony in this regard”.

“After discussion with the Defence Minister it will be decided on how the toxic waste will be transported to the DRDO centre located 80 km from Nagpur,” he added.

Ramesh, who held meeting with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh, asked the latter to have talks with his Maharashtra counterpart Prithviraj Chavan in this regard.

However, a final decision in this regard will be taken only in July when the state government will hold a conference in which discussions will be held over the recommendations of the peer-committee. NGOs and experts will also be invited to participate in that discussion.

The reports received from NIRI, NGRI and IICT on toxic waste of Union Carbide plant was sent to Peer review committee along with the 50 scientists for further assessment and results, Ramesh said, adding that the report will be discussed again during the proposed conference following which the decision will be taken.

Meanwhile, the state government will issue global tenders for appointment of independent contractors to assess the expected waste spread across the 70 acre premises of defunct carbide factory.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will have the responsibility of selecting the contractors and thereafter sending the recommendations to the Madhya Pradesh government. 

The CPCB will draft the bid, under which a study will be carried out to monitor the pollution levels in the underground water along with assessing the toxic wastes buried after the gas tragedy. The assessment work may be assigned to one or more efficient contractors selected by the Central Pollution Control Board.

Factory building contaminated

Meanwhile, no decision could be taken during the meeting over demolition of the building and Mic tank no, 610 of the defunct Union Carbide factory.

Ramesh said, “The Centre and the Group of Ministers (GoMs) on Bhopal gas tragedy want to raze the building of the Union Carbide Factory due to mercury contamination, but the state government and NGOs are against the move."

Protesting against the demolition, Gas Relief Minister Babulal said, “The building can be cleaned and a part of the factory from where the gas leaked can be preserved as a monument.”

 “Under the provisions of the Gas Disaster Act 1985, the Centre is responsible for the disposal of toxic waste of the factory. As far as the state government is concerned, it will extend all support to the Centre, which is much more competent in terms of technical efficiency,” he added.

JPN/Bureau