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Bhopal victims protest dioxin pollution at Pithampur

Posted on Feb 07, 02:52PM | IBNS

Bhopal, Feb 7 : Five organizations working among the survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal on Thursday charged the Madhya Pradesh government of being silent spectators to the deliberate and repeated poisoning of people in Pithampur, Indore.

The five organizations are Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and Children Against Dow Carbide.

At a press conference on Thursday, presenting documents obtained under the RTI Act, the organizations said that high levels of Dioxins and Furans were released from the Ramky waste incinerator during four trial runs from July 2010 to June 2012. According to these documents the levels of Dioxins and Furans in Pithampur were 68 to 267 times higher than the permissible limit.

The organizations said that according to the World Health Organization even minute quantities of Dioxins cause cancers, disrupt hormones, damage the reproductive system and weaken people's ability to fight diseases.

The organizations pointed out that the incinerator at the Ramky waste treatment facility is not equipped to measure or prevent the escape of Dioxins and Furans and the MP Pollution Control Board had directed its closure in August 2012.

"However, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) overrode the order of MPPCB and yet another trial run was carried out in January 2013," they said.

According to the organizations, the Ramky waste treatment facility violates the Hazardous Waste Management Rules of 1989 stipulated by the CPCB itself.

"As per these Rules a waste treatment facility has to be at least 500 metres away from a human settlement whereas the Ramky incinerator is situated less than 200 metres away from the village Tarpura," they said.

The organizations pointed out that the documents obtained under the RTI Act show that high levels of pollutants from the incinerator were found in village Tarpura last year.

The organizations stated that because of the high organochlorine content of the Union Carbide waste, they were likely to emit higher volumes of Dioxins and Furans on incineration.

They said that while there was no incinerator in India that could handle the Union Carbide waste, the Ramky incinerator was the worst choice.

The organizations said that the only option for safe disposal of the 350 tonnes of Union Carbide waste was to send it to facilities in countries such as Germany, Denmark, Canada and others that have incinerators equipped with facilities for capturing Dioxins and Furans.

The organizations alleged that the offer by GIZ to air lift and dispose off the waste at half the cost of that demanded by Ramky fell through because the Minister of Gas Relief sought bribe from this German agency.

They said that the state government's lack of interest in responding to the recent offer by the British High Commission is also because of the same reason.