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Vijay Panjwani has sent in a report on Supreme Court proceedings in the Union Carbide case with regard to disposal of contaminated waste from the Bhopal Gas Tragedy:

Union Carbide Bhopal H-Waste Safe Disposal

New Delhi, Friday 6th Sept 2013

The Supreme Court today considered the joint inspection report of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)and MP State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) in the matter of safe disposal of 350 tons of Hazardous Waste lying in the premises of Union Carbide plant Bhopal. A trial-run to treat 10 tons of H-Waste is necessary before the entire quantity of 350 tons is treated.

map of India showing cities <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>Bhopal</strong> Indore Jodhpur Ranchi Jamshedpur LucknowThe joint report has found the operation of plant and machinery of the Treatment Storage Disposal Facility (TSDF) near Indore at Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh to be sufficiently satisfactory and compliant. Mr Vijay Panjwani counsel for CPCB told the court that the scientists treated H-Waste from Hindustan Insecticide Ltd, Cochin, Kerala on the directions of the supreme court which is similar to the Carbide H-Waste lying untreated since the night of December 2, 1984. Mr Vijay Panjwani submitted that the entire process from transportation from Cochin,packaging,storage to treatment was compliant. He said all precautions would be taken to monitor gas emissions and if anything goes wrong the plant would be shut off immediately. He said the scientists would be present 24 hours during treatment within the facility. Mr Panjwani said there is no chance of any harmful gas leaking since the plant is working efficiently.
When asked whether the NGO ‘Bhopal Group’ would hold protests against incineration counsel soght time to seek instructions. This was a master stroke from the Bench anticipating trouble and quelling in court itself. The case of trial-run of 10 tons of H-Waste would be heard again on next Friday.



By: Vijay Panjwani, Advocate.


Two different Hon’ble Benches showed interest in moving on with the dusty files placed before them for directions. In a departure from the line ‘this is not our job’ to ‘its taken years someone must do something ‘. In the first case while dealing with the custom duty non-payment problem of import of dirty hazardous waste oil in very costly stainless steel, the court’s attention was drawn to the issue of contaminated ground water in Bhopal DoW Chemical/UCC plant. After the world’s largest gas leak disaster in 1984 slowly hazardous water from the contaminated plant has contaminated ground water table. Therefore, no ground water can be drawn for human consumption. It did not take long for the court to grasp the situation begging remedial action. Considering all aspects the court directed Central Pollution Control Board to inspect the site and file an inspection report before 18th April, 2012. The report would show the cause and the extent of contamination. CPCB normally gives its recommendations in all reports for remedial measures to be taken to restore the ground water quality to comply to prescribed environmental standards. The only problem is that the order of 28th has not been uploaded in Supreme Court website till 5-30 PM Friday 30th March 2012. In the absence of copy of order no action can be taken. The next week has four days off thursday to sunday, signs of in-built delays.

Then came the turn of supply of highly polluted drinking water from Bhopal Municipal Corporation [ Nagar Nigam] to neighbourhood residents of UCC/DoW plant. It is alleged that the water pipe is laid near the open drain [Naali] carrying kitchen and bathroom waste water. The waste water leaks into the pipeline making the water supply sometimes normal and at times foul smelling. Complaints have not rectified the situation. CPCB would be looking in this too. Besides the State Government and Nagar Nigam have been directed to remove the contamination in the ground water and to ensure safe pollutant free drinking water supply within two weeks. Strangely neither counsel nor any officer was present in court during the 90 minute proceedings on behalf of the state or nagar nigam. On general inquiry from courtroom full of lawyers none answered the call and this was recorded in the order. Such unconcern and bravado is not seen every day.

In the second case a large copper manufacturer was directed to dispose of gypsum dust and gypsum sludge only to ‘need based’ customers. The purchaser has to prove an on-going road or brick making project or any other lawful use for safe disposal. The bunch of lawyers did not take it gracefully but then tomorrow is always a new day and we get back into normal mode.