The Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the central government to file details of the steps taken by the Task Force Committee constituted for removing toxic waste from the Bhopal gas accident site, a lawyer said Wednesday.
The division bench of Justice K.K. Lahoti and Justice Sushma Shrivastava Tuesday also directed Dow Chemical Company to submit the document of its merger agreement with Union Carbide so the court could examine its liability regarding the removal of the toxic waste lying in the factory premises for the past 26 years.
The orders have been passed on a petition of Alok Pratap Singh against the Union of India , Dow Chemicals, Union Carbide and others.
Singh’s counsel K.N. Fakhruddin told IANS over phone from Jabalpur: “It is an important directive but I cannot comment much in this regard.”
Representing the central government, advocate Shekhar Sharma urged the court to direct Dow Chemical to submit documents of its assets, liabilities and business transactions in India.
The court directed the company to hand over these documents to the central government by Jan 25.
Tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas spewed out of the now shut Union Carbide pesticide plant here on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, killing over 3,000 people instantly.
In the years that followed, people exposed to the gas kept dying. The toll is believed to be about 25,000, and the affected now account for over 5 lakh.
After what is considered as the orld’s worst industrial disaster, Union Carbide transferred its assets to US-based Dow Chemical Company. Though it paid compensation as directed by the court, about 350 tonnes of toxic waste is still lying at the factory waiting to be disposed of.
The central government’s stand is that the polluter or its assignee ought to remove the waste, while Dow Chemical has challenged the court’s jurisdiction over it.
The question of jurisdiction would be decided once Dow Chemical submits the merger documents, the court observed.