Bhopal-like disaster averted in Gujarat, claims NGO

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New Delhi, Apr 8 (UNI) A Bhopal gas tragedy-like disaster was averted in Gujarat's Ankeleshwar earlier this month, an NGO claimed today.

Gujarat-based Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti said here that a fire consumed 120 tonnes of unknown toxic waste on April three at Bharuch Environ Infrastructure Ltd (BEIL's) toxic waste storage and disposal facility in Ankeleshwar. ''The incident vindicates the stance of local residents, Bhopal survivors and a member of the High Court appointed Technical Committee who had advised the Madhya Pradesh High Court against sending Union Carbide's waste from Bhopal for incineration at the BEIL facility,'' said Samiti's Rohit Prajapati.

The Samiti members sat on a dharna at Jantar Matar here with Bhopal survivors who have just completed a padyatra to the National Capital.

He alleged that while the Environmental Protection Act and the Factories Protection Act mandates disclosure of information relating to hazards posed by chemicals to workers ad residents, the Gujarat Poccution Control Board refused to divulge the information on the type of toxic which caught fire in the incident under the Right to Information Act.

A Task Force set up by the Madhya Pradesh HC to recommend action on toxic waste lyinging and around the Union Carbide factory site in Bhopal concuded that 345 tonne of chlorinated wastes should be sent to BEIL for incineration. ''But according to Dr P M Bhargava, a prominent scientist and member of the Technical Committee appointed by the HC, the Task Force had omitted parts of the Technical Sub-committee report that strongly suggested that the waste be shipped back to Dow Chemicals for disposal in the United States,'' claimed Prajapati.

He also charged the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat with not taking steps to avoid the transfer of the Union Carbide chemicals to BEIL as it was concerned about the capital investment promised by Dow Chemicals in the state.

The district administration in Ankeleshwar had no contingency plans to tackle such incidents, he claimed.

Prajapati also quoted a study by a German consultant which found that the BEIL facility was not equipped to deal with highly toxic wastes.

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