New Delhi: Based on the recommendation of the Group of Ministers, the central government has decided to bear the cost of clearing up the toxic waste lying at the defunct Union Carbide plant in Bhopal since the gas leak disaster 25 years ago, the Rajya Sabha was informed Friday.
"Based on the recommendation of the Group of Ministers on Bhopal gas leak disaster, the Government of India has decided to bear the cost of environmental remediation of the Union Carbide plant site," Minister of State for Chemicals and Petrochemicals Srikant Jena told the upper house.
"The remediation cost estimated at Rs.310 crore has been approved and will be released on endorsement of the specific project proposals for remediation and waste disposal work to be submitted by the Madhya Pradesh government," Jena said.
The minister made this statement to the upper house in reply to a question on clearing up the highly dangerous toxic wastes lying unattended at UCIL plant site. The gas leak over 25 years ago left over 25,000 dead and maimed thousands of others.
The minister said the state government has to send its proposal for environmental restoration of the plant site in consultation with the Oversight Committee, working under Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh.
In response to another question on an issue linked to the 1984 Bhopal tragedy, the minister told the Lok Sabha Thursday that "the High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Jabalpur is hearing a public interest lawsuit on the issue of environmental remediation of the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) Plant site at Bhopal".
"The Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals had filed an application on May 10, 2005, seeking the court`s directions to US-based Dow Chemicals and Union Carbide Corporation and India`s Eveready Industries Limited to pay for the environmental remediation of the UCIL plant site as per the polluters-pay-principle," the minister had said.
But the plea is yet to be decided as the court is yet to fix the civil and criminal liabilities of Dow Chemicals and others.