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Bhopal firm under scanner again

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The hazardous waste site of Limited at Pithampur, near Indore, has once again come under attack from survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) after an incident a few days earlier, when some labourers were hospitalised.

The company said there was an incident but it was not due to any toxic or radio active waste rather due to maintenance. The labourers, it informed, are out of danger and have reported for work again yesterday.

Today, a number of Bhopal gas victims and NGOs stormed the Madhya Pradesh office and staged a demonstration against the alleged violation of pollution control guidelines.

They inscribed the office of the board with words like “Corrupt” and “Be-Iman (dishonest)” and called for immediate action.

“The Pollution Control Board and allowed Ramkey’s facility to take shape in an area in close proximity to human population.They also gave clearances to the company not to have a multi-effect evaporator and mechanical stabilisation system,” Rachna Dhingra and Bal Krishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action said.

Rachna also alleged, “Six labourers were injured and partially blind ed due to a toxic waste in the facility.” The survivors and NGOs shouted slogans “Stop Favouring Dow” at the State Pollution Control Board.

The company, according to a top official, has obtained all necessary permission from both the boards but since June 24 it is under maintenance and no incinerating activity other than packing was going on.

“We had received paint sludge from a local company and during its packing, two labourers of the six-member team had a nauseated feeling, as they had removed their masks. All six members were immediately hospitalised. They are now well and reported back to duty yesterday,” said K S M Rao, Director.

Adding: “We have not received any toxic or radioactive waste from Union Carbide’s Bhopal factory. As far as multi-effect evaporator (MEE) is concerned, a dryer is more effective than it, so we have a dryer rather than the evaporator.”

Explained Rao: “At a MEE, we get salt with 40-45 per cent moisture after evaporation of ‘leached’ material, while after spray drying, we get salt with 25-30 per cent moisture. So, a spray dryer is a better equipment.”

He also said an MEE is not installed alone. It needs a boiler and coal, so it requires a chimney. “As a result, I preferred a dryer to a boiler.”

On being asked if the site was in close proximity of any human population, he said: “We had no role in selection of land. That was done by the state government, Pithampur Auto Cluster Limited and Pithampur Industry Association. However, our landfill site is 480 metres away from the human population.”

Rao added: “It is also equipped with experts, and equipment to handle Union Carbide waste if it comes for incineration.” MP Pollution Control Board Chairman N P Shukla was not available for comment.

The facility was given permission for operations on March 18 this year.

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