In a new revelation, it has been discovered that the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) had granted consent to the trial run of the incineration of tonnes of the hazardous waste lying in the Union Carbide factory premises in Bhopal overlooking several violations of Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules.

Interestingly, the MPPCB granted the clearance for the “fraught-with-controversy” trial run after a go ahead from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) which had earlier found the incineration facility technologically ill-equipped to handle the waste.

Six workers were seriously injured and partially lost their vision after being exposed to the toxic waste during the trial run of the incineration on Friday last week. The trial was conducted in the absence of crucially important Multiple Effective Evaporator (MEE) and Mechanical Stabilizer System (MSS).

The Madhya Pradesh Waste Management Project (MPWMP) facility at Pithampur near Indore, run by Hyderabad based Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd, was granted the Consent For Operation by the MPPCB on March 18, 2010, overlooking the environmental fallouts of the process and the fact that the facility does not fulfill the technical requirements for the disposal of the hazardous waste.

According to the Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), any Common Transport Storage and Disposal Facility (CTSDF) involving hazardous waste requires the installation of a Multiple Effect Evaporator (MEE) and a Mechanical Stabilizer System.

In September 2008, the CPCB had also issued a notice to the MPWMP (a division of Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd) regarding non-compliance with the directions of the CPCB as per section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The notice directed the facility to install the MEE and the Mechanical Stabilizer System without which the “facility shall not procure any incinerable hazardous wastes”.

There are major concerns involving the incineration process at the facility, as highlighted in the March 2007 inspection report of the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) zonal office in Bhopal. The report had noted that the location of the Common Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (CTSDF) was “not proper as it is located within 500 m from the nearest village, Tarapura…has direct bearing on the village [with] no buffer zone of 2 km” between the village and the CTSDF.

The report further noted that “the construction [of the CTSDF] was not done as per CPCB guidelines”. More or less similar concerns were also raised in the CPCB zonal office’s monitoring report of January 2008.

The reports were submitted to the CPCB Member Secretary in 2008. However, in a January 2010 letter, the CPCB granted permission to the facility for the trial run “in case Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board agrees”.

Similar concerns were also raised by the MPPCB’s regional officer at Dhar P.K. Trivedi in a letter written in 2009 to Aparna Bapat, Lab In-Charge of the board’s regional lab at Indore.

Concerned residents of the village near the facility, along with residents of Pithampur, have been protesting against the incineration of the toxic waste of Union Carbide at the said facility.

Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy staged a protest at the MPPCB office here on Monday demanding an “immediate explanation for criminal negligence towards the health and safety of workers and residents and complicity with Ramky group of companies”.