In an important development, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has confirmed heavy contamination in the groundwater and premises of the Union Carbide factory and surrounding areas in Bhopal, according to sources.

The report, not officially published yet, is said to be in concurrence with another report published by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment last December proving heavy contamination in and around the factory premises and the groundwater of the affected areas. CPCB chairperson S.P. Gautam, however, expressed ignorance over the findings.

“I am not aware if the results of the research conducted on the collected samples are out,” said Mr. Gautam. Reliable sources on condition of anonymity, however, said that since the CPCB findings confirm contamination, it intends to sit on it or it would cause embarrassment to the Union Government and the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which has been denying contamination.

The most significant finding of the CPCB report, as was that of the CSE report, is reportedly confirmation of excessive groundwater contamination. While the State and Central governments had been acknowledging contamination within the factory premises, they had been denying contamination of groundwater. Though the State Government formally said “take the CSE report seriously”, there was no response from the Centre.

The results of the tests performed on 14 groundwater samples collected by the CPCB from around the factory in Bhopal show evidence of contamination by heavy metals, organo-chlorine and chlorinated benzene compounds, according to informed sources.

A large number of these compounds along with other volatile organic compounds were detected in the groundwater collected from Indira Nagar which is situated at a distance of 2.4 km from the factory. The CPCB, like the CSE, also confirms that the waste stored inside the UCIL factory premises is the only source of contamination.