The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Union government and Madhya Pradesh to take immediate steps for disposal of toxic waste lying in and around the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal in six months.

A Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar said this should be done on the recommendations of the Empowered Monitoring Committee, the Advisory Committee and the National Institute for Research in Environmental Health (NIREH).

The Bench said, “It is indisputable that [a] huge [amount] toxic materials/waste is still lying in and around the factory… Its very existence is hazardous to health. It needs to be disposed of at the earliest and in a scientific manner…, which may cause no further damage to human health and environment in Bhopal.”

The Bench ordered that a collective meeting of the monitoring committee and the other two organisations be held along with the Secretary to the government of India and the Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary within one month to finalise the entire scheme for disposal. This directive, it said, “is without prejudice to the appropriate orders or directions being issued by the court of competent jurisdiction.”

The Bench directed that all matters pertaining to Bhopal gas victims be transferred to the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur. It gave liberty to applicants or petitioners or any other affected person to move the High Court in the case of any violation of non-compliance with these directions or any other order passed by the court.

“The monitoring committee has already been authorised, and it is hereby clarified that it will hear the complaints and, if necessary, can even call for the records from the hospital or department concerned, record the statements of government servants or employees of the hospital and make its recommendations to the government for taking appropriate steps. If no action is taken by the State government even upon a reminder thereof, the committee would be well within its jurisdiction to approach the High Court for appropriate directions,” it said.

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