Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding chemical waste of 337 metric tons lying the Union Carbide campus contaminating groundwater, 20/03/2024

  • 20/03/2024

Order of the National Green Tribunal (Central Zone Bench, Bhopal) in the matter of Suo moto case In re: News item appearing in The Hindu dated 03.12.2023 titled “Battling water woes in land of tragedy dated 20/03/2024.

The court noted that the chemical waste which was approximately 337 metric ton which were collected during the time of Bhopal gas disaster was required to be disposed of according to the rules within a timeframe but the same has not been done yet.

The letter by the Director, Gas Relief and Rehabilitation dated December 5, 2023 revealed that the process of tender, auction, engagement of contractor are going on.

"It is known fact that the chemical waste where it is accumulated is creating leachate and further contaminating the surface water, underground water and in the rainy seasons by flow to the other places and water of the river bodies are also being contaminated by this chemical waste," said the court.

The bench of Justice Sheo Kumar Singh said that the matter was not taken seriously by the authorities concerned. "The Director, Gas Relief and Rehabilitation is sitting with the files and not assessing the environmental harm to the environment and the persons residing there and all those persons which are being affected by the underground water or surface water or water which is being used through rivers by the civilians," said the court.

The NGT noted that actions are required to be taken immediately by the higher authorities. As the Supreme Court of India has already constituted a committee to monitor all the things in the matter, the NGT directed the committee to further process the matter so that the persons residing there should not be heavily affected by the use of contaminated water or through reaction of the chemical waste which is more than 337 metric ton laying there.

In view of the technicality of the things the court said that there is the need for technical assistance of two persons comprising an expert nominated by Director, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh and Alok Saxena, Scientist, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB).

The NGT directed immediate action to be taken by the authorities concerned on the following 7 points:

i. Disposal of chemical waste which is approximately 337 metric tons and is lying in the Union Carbide campus

ii. Contamination of the ground water

iii. Shortage of the piped water

iv. Status of the nitrate (NO3) concentrations exceeding the maximum permissible limits and remedial measures required to be taken

v. Status of chloride contamination in comparison to reports submitted in 2011 and the present study and the present status. Sodium and Potassium concentrations exceeding the WHO limits

vi. Iron concentrations exceeding the BIS permissible limit in 7 places

vii. The Union Carbide India Limited surrounding area is affected with partially Manganese pollution.

The Secretary (Environment) and Member Secretary, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board has been directed to take further necessary actions. The Principal Secretary should call a report from competent expert body for remedial actions and to take necessary action according to rules and submit the factual and action taken report within three weeks. The next hearing of the case will be held on July 9, 2024.