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Bhopal verdict ‘very unsatisfactory’, says Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi, June 8 (Calcutta Tube) Terming the verdict of Bhopal gas disaster ‘very unsatisfactory’, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday said his ministry will focus on strictly implementing the environment protection law to ensure such incidents do not occur in future.

‘It is a matter of deep anguish for me personally, and it has taken so long and verdict clearly is very unsatisfactory from every point of view. It has caused understandable furore, particularly among people affected by the tragedy and the civil society groups who have been active,’ Ramesh told reporters here.

He said his ministry is concerned with implementing the Environment Protection Act, 1986, incidentally brought in by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in wake of the Bhopal gas tragedy.

‘What I can assure people is we will be strict without fear and favour in implementing the act so that future Bhopals don’t occur,’ Ramesh said.

Speaking about measures to deal with ongoing consequences of Bhopal gas disaster, he said: ‘We have about 325 tonnes of toxic waste still at the site waiting to be incinerated and disposed of while about 45 tonnes have been done so far.’

Ramesh said the ministry has started decontamination studies both on structure as well as on the site.

Three institutions – the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad, and the National Environment Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur – are doing the studies, expected to be completed by June, he said.

‘In fact, for some historical reasons, the environment ministry is not the coordinating agency for the Bhopal gas tragedy in the government of India. It is the department of chemicals and petrochemicals which is the nodal agency. We only provide the inputs,’ he said.

A court in Bhopal Monday held the Union Carbide India Limited and seven of its officials guilty of criminal negligence in the world’s worst industrial disaster and sentenced them to two years’ imprisonment. The seven were later released on bail.

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