The Indian government apologises for secretly dumping toxic waste from the 1984 Bhopal gas leak, the world's worst industrial disaster, in an incinerator two years ago.
Indian government apologises for dumping Bhopal toxic waste
The Indian government has apologised for secretly dumping toxic waste from the 1984 Bhopal gas leak, the world's worst industrial disaster, in an incinerator two years ago. About 40 tonnes of toxic waste still at the site of the Union Carbide pesticide plant that spewed deadly gas over Bhopal city was taken at night in 2008 to an incinerator at Pithampur 230 kilometres away. The environment minister Jairam Ramesh, in the latest attempt to end controversy over the disaster's legacy, said the continuing clean-up had to be done openly.
"I admit as minister that it was wrong to have brought those 40 tonnes of waste to Pithampur," Mr Ramesh, who did not hold the environment role at the time, said on Saturday. "Whatever we do needs to be done with adequate transparency. I am ready to admit publicly that transporting that waste from the Union Carbide factory secretly during the night hours was wrong." According to the government, 3,500 lives were lost in the immediate aftermath of the Bhopal gas leak, but rights group calculate that 25,000 people died in the years that followed.
One year after poisonous gas from the factory poured into Bhopal's slums, local authorities collected 350 tonnes of waste and left it in the factory yard. Most of it remains there untreated. The government has vowed to finally clean up the site and to improve compensation after public outrage over last month's court verdicts into who was responsible. Seven Indian managers were given prison sentences of just two years each after being found guilty of criminal negligence, triggering a furious response from survivors' groups.
The government also pledged to again try to expedite Warren Anderson, the American who was chief executive of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster and who now lives in New York state. * AFP