Opposing the proposed demolition of the defunct Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal, organisations representing victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy have dubbed it as an attempt to “weaken” the criminal case pending in court.

“Tank no. 610 and the existing structure at the factory site is evidence against the company. How can they demolish it ,” Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti convenor Sadhna Karnik Karnik asked.

“It is an attempt to weaken the criminal case pending in the sessions court as the defunct plant is an important evidence in the case against Union Carbide,” she said.

Ms. Karnik was reacting to the remarks of Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on the issue.

“Though the State government and NGOs wants to preserve a part from where the gas leaked as a monument, the Centre and the Group of Ministers (GoMs) on Bhopal Gas Tragedy want to raze the building of the Union Carbide Factory due to mercury contamination,” Mr. Ramesh had said.

However, the Centre has not taken a final call in the matter, he had said, adding that the decision will be taken in July-August after the State government and NGOs put forward their points.

Ms. Karnik said, “There are many ways for making it free from contamination and if the very structure was removed then creating a permanent memorial will have no meaning“.

The move will be opposed whenever a meeting in this regard is held, she added.

Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan convenor Abdul Jabbar said, “No doubt the structure existing at the defunct plant has weakened but part of the plant made of cast iron can easily be preserved. If they raze the structure then how can a memorial be created at the site.”

Even at the Nazi camps and at Hiroshima-Nagasaki in Japan, where nuclear bombs were dropped, remains of the structure were preserved so that people remain aware of the cost humanity paid for that act, he said.

When asked about the mercury contamination existing in the plant, Mr. Jabbar said it cannot be doubted but there are ways to detoxify it so that it can be preserved.

Mr. Jabbar did not rule out that it may be a ploy on the part of the MNCs to completely erase the memories of the world’s worst industrial disaster.

The infamous gas tragedy hit Bhopal on the intervening nights of December 2-3, 1984, killed over 15,000 people and maimed lakhs besides leaving several others scarred for life.