From The Pioneer, July 12, 2005
Bhopal Gas survivors’ leader Abdul Jabbar on Monday vehemently opposed a move to remove toxic chemicals present in and around the abandoned Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) plant.
He said that it would only aid the UCC and its present owner Dow Chemicals from absolving themselves of responsibility for the 1984 disaster.
“Pollution from all hazardous chemicals and toxic silt should be prevented. However, removal of the chemicals will be tantamount to destroying key evidence against the MNC responsible for the disaster that killed several thousand people and affected half a million,” Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan convenor Abdul Jabbar told reporters in Bhopal.
The sangathan would intervene in the case pending before the Madhya Pradesh High Court to prevent pollution around five square km area.
It was also against shifting the chemicals for neutralisation to Pithampur industrial area near Indore and to Gujarat. Mr Jabbar claimed that about 18,000 metric tonnes of chemicals and toxic silt were lying in and around the plant causing pollution in 25 localities where potable water was being supplied by tankers for the past decade.
Of this, 8,000 tonnes of chemicals were in the factory premises itself. The activist said that the ground reality of environmental pollution, and the consequent health hazard, was not being presented before the Supreme Court and the High Court.
The US Appellant Court, which was also hearing a petition for cleaning up the Bhopal site, was likely to deliver its judgement very soon and was most likely to impose a penalty of ten billion dollars.
The UCC plant, from where several tonnes of methyl isocyanate leaked on December 2 and 3, 1984, was handed over to the Madhya Pradesh Industries Department on July 19, 1998.
Following the High Court orders, only repackaging of chemicals — stored in a godown near the factory — was being done, the activist clarified.
According to Mr Jabbar, the chemicals lying around the factory and causing air, water and soil pollution, included methylene chloride, chloroform, chlorobenzyl chloride, carbaryl, phosgene, naphthalene and sevin tar.